Monday, May 7, 2012

Artist Of The Day & Album Review: Sun Airway: Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier

Album Rating: B+
On the season finale of the first season of "Mad Men," main character and American icon Don Draper makes a sell pitch for "The Wheel" or what he renamed "The Carousel." The way Draper sells this "photo wheel" or "slideshow" is nothing short of incredible though. Draper begins by describing the word nostalgia. Draper describes nostalgia as "delicate but potent", as a "twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone," "the pain from an old wound," and "something that takes us to places we have never been before." He describes this nostalgia while his "carousel" is showing pictures from throughout his life: it shows him kissing his wife at his wedding, it shows him playing with his kids when they were very young, it shows him doing his job, and hell, it even shows him when he wasn't even Don Draper. This nostalgia that Draper defined is both can be both positive and negative (Draper's family is falling apart as he shows this slideshow), it can be both painful and new, it can take us places where we have never been before, but most importantly this nostalgia makes us feel a unique feeling and makes us think in ways that we have never thought before. This nostalgia that Draper defines almost puts us our lives on the "Carousel" that he was trying to sell, something as powerful as this nostalgia spins our life in so many directions that we almost have no control over that all we can do is sit back and enjoy its delicacies or we can cry from the old wounds it presents. But the most important thing is that this carousel of nostalgia exists and we ride on it with every powerful emotion of almost every single day.

The positives and negatives of Draper's "carousel of nostalgia" are best heard on Sun Airway's 2010 album Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier. This album gives you the "carousel of nostalgia" feeling because the sound of every song on this album sounds like an experience from your life. The music on Sun Airway's Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier  is so powerful yet simple, so delicate and potent, and brings up so many memories and old wounds that it would be a better soundtrack to a memory or an old photo album that it would be an actual album. The sound of the album is so laid back and atmospheric that it creates this "soundtrack to your dreams" feel that allows you to interpret every song in your own way, and place each song wherever you want to place it on your personal "carousel of nostalgia." The laid back distorted feel and sound effects on the opener "Infinity" remind me of a first trip to the ocean, the fast guitar and catchy chorus of "American West" remind me of a family road trip, the drums and clapping beat of "Oh, Naoka" remind me of the first time I felt in love with someone, the powerful sounds of "Waiting on You" remind on the first time this love fell apart, and the closer "Five Years" seems like it gives me the perfect mixture of all of these feelings. The beauty of Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier though is that it could give every listener a different feeling, a different memory, a different wound, and a different carousel for just about every song. The delicate, soft, and potent sounds Sun Airway create on this album give the listener the perfect opportunity to create their own personal "carousel of nostalgia."

The vocals and lyrics on Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier also help give the listener this "carousel of nostalgia" feeling. The lyrics and the vocals on this album are never forced (besides maybe the gigantic chorus of "Waiting on You") and this is actually a very positive thing for this album. Instead of Sun Airway telling the listener the exactly how they should feel, they distort their lyrics for most of the album and let the listener create whatever feeling they believe matches the beautiful music Sun Airway create. The lyrics are generally descriptions of general things (the ocean, the moon, the west coast, etc.) or clichés that do not prohibit the listener from connecting with the song in a very personal way. The vocals and lyrics of Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier are laid back and do not prohibit the listener from going on their personal ride on the "carousel of nostalgia."

After Draper described this type of "nostalgia" towards the end of the first season finale of "Mad Men," I thought that this type of feeling was almost damn near impossible or was just stoner hippie talk from the 1960's. But upon the first listen of Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, you get that this type of nostalgia really does exist. You get that this album is so delicate, soft, atmospheric and potent that it can open perfect memories and reopen old wounds with one riff. You get that this album is really more of a soundtrack to a movie than an actual album, that it is really even more of a photo album to every major event in your life than a soundtrack to a movie, and then you finally get that this album is more of a "carousel of nostalgia" than an album, a soundtrack to a movie, or even a photo album. Even though this albums atmospheric nature may also be its biggest flaw (only a couple of tracks really really stand out), you realize that the carousel this album takes you on is more important than the album itself. That this unique feeling that almost makes this album autobiographical for the listener deserves nothing but our praise, our closed eyes, our open eyes, and our Don Draper Halloween costumes. It is tough to find an album consisting of so little that asks for so much, but then you remember that this is really more of a carousel than an actual album anyway.

Check It Out

1. Infinity
2. American West
3. Oh, Naoko
4. Swallowed by the Night
5. Waiting on You
6. Actors
7. Shared Piano
8. Put the Days Away
9. Your Moon
10. Five Years

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