CD Review

Sunless - "There Is Only Night"

By Marcus Pan

There Is Only NightFrom an area of American desert comes the contradicting band Sunless, an electronic outfit made up of Ross Ingle (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum programming) and Stranger66 (sequencing, sampling). Sunless puts together a lighter style of electronic and moody music, a low-key sound with somewhat bright melodies and simplistic bass and drum lines to keep them in check. Ross' vocals are droning but not mumbly like on many other electronic records - instead he seems to rather sing the lyrics rather than groan them out. Stranger66 applies samples very sparingly.

Previous to their release of There Is Only Night, Sunless have already put out Dancing In Ruin, The Refracted Shrine and The Lost as well. There Is Only Night has cuts from the other records - three each from their previous CDs. The final track, Sacrament, is the only one that appears only here.

Sunless does keep a simple electronic style - a light-listening sound. For the most part the formula is standard ambient-electronic. It seems to be missing something - not enough "oomph" I guess. It doesn't stand out as well as other electronic bands I've listened to, but the music is still well-played and comfortable to listen to. It's not bad, it's just nothing new. I also think it's effected by being very simplistic in form - bass and drum tracks are low key and the melodies, while bright and original with a pianist sound, lack the complication I expect with electronic music today. This makes the songs drone too much, becoming monotonous by track's end. Many of the arrangements sound extremely similar also, sticking to the piano melody/chord background/light percussion format. This adds to the repetitive nature.

There is Only NightNot all of the tracks have lyrics. Half of them here are instrumental - mostly piano solos. As She Sleeps, track 9, is one of these, and it is quite pretty. No other sounds permeate the track and the piano is bright and melodic - the only problem is there's not enough of a melody to keep it interesting without becoming drawn out. The second track on There Is Only Night is a good number with a moving bass line and great sequencing. The Perfect Lie it is called and it is originally from Dancing In Ruin. The new single on this CD, Sacrament, which is used effectively to close the album is a brooding piece. The synthesizers are, again, piano-driven and played brightly. The song goes into a heavier beat and drawn-out bass breakdown near the end, adding much to the arrangement - exciting it, if you will.

Sunless provides us with well-played, albeit simpler, electronic mood music. With low-key vocals, soothing percussion and bright piano melodies, it works as great candle music. There's nothing new or unusual here, and the CD will tend to drag a little, but it isn't badly played and is quite enjoyable when you're in one of those moody periods where you need something that will help you relax.

Contact Information:
Post: The Sunless Lands, P.O. Box 8541, Mesa, AZ, 85214-8541
E-Mail: Sunless@primenet.com