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The Cosmic Garden: Sun Secrets

August 9, 2012

Listening to Sun Secrets from German duo The Cosmic Garden is like having a friend show up who apparently wants to have a good time, but then halfway through the visit gets a little too serious and rambles a lot and generally overstays his welcome. This album is a mixed bag of concepts that in many places don’t seem to gel. When it works, it’s spot on. The opener, “Instellar Waves” kicks things off in grand style, rapid-fire glitchy beats laying down a serrated sound-bed Sigi Hummer and Tibor Friedman then proceed to slash at it with dubby guitars, percolating synth melodies and a big, spacey, 70s rock sensibility. Like I say, off to a good start. They then shift into a quieter space for the start of “Absteig in die Unterwelt” (which, early on, uses a lifted throat-singing sample), an interesting bit of near-ambient drift–and then it begins to unravel for me. A tangle of echoing piano shows up briefly, some chanting, neither of which ever to get comfortable. The track loses its way, and I lose interest. This is what I find happens too often on Sun Secrets–the pieces seem to be too long for Hummer and Friedman to comfortably move them through to a logical place, and in trying to shift gears, they just make things clunky. “In Love With Rosy Rosy,” for example, starts out slowly and a little waywardly, but manages to find, a couple minutes along, something of a workable groove. A lounge-worthy beat enters, along with a punchy bass riff, but suddenly the duo play with the tempo and it feels like things go off kilter just a bit. What might be meant to be poly-rhythmic just turns into a jerky twist of intentions. “Im Tal Der Eremitten” is another ambient piece that rides on big bass pads spiraling downward. It starts a little awkwardly, but smooths itself out after a few minutes. But just as I find myself slotting into it, the sound starts falling apart.  Redemption comes in the form of “Where Have All the Flowergirls Gone.” Loungey at the outset, it picks up another solid beat and then gets fantastically assailed by wailing, heavily fuzzed guitars. “Purpure Liquid Plejades” is another winner here, weird and off-putting at first, but resolving into a pulsing, guitar-driven joyride. At just over four minutes, it comes, makes it mark, and gets out. Thus, it works.  There is potential on Sun Secrets but it feels like Hummer and Friedman are pushing themselves too far and they’re not able to satisfactorily close the deal on most tracks. There’s some improvisational basis at work, but you still need to be able to bring an improv full circle to make it work. It’s definitely worth your time to check out some samples and decide for yourself.

Available a number of places, all listed at Soundcloud.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Mashburn permalink
    August 9, 2012 11:01 pm

    Greetings John: It has been a month of Sundays since receiving one of your reviews! Additionally the podcast plays for about 8-10 minutes and then quits! What’s up with that. Hoping to continue to receive your reviews and some solution to the podcast…Steve Mashburn

  2. August 9, 2012 11:04 pm

    Steve–are you by any chance listening in Chrome? I have that problem on my work browser, but it still runs fine in Firefox.

    And remember–from the front page you can sign up to get reviews by e-mail. You’ll never miss another!

  3. cosmicgarden permalink
    August 10, 2012 4:06 am

    Dear John, many thanks for your time listening to our music and your excellent, very professional and competent review. I really appreciate your indepth view , your solid based critical remarks and overall very fair and balanced statements. You dont put musicians down but give your readers and the artists an encouraging feedback and most important chance to discover and improve.As this is so rare in music journalism the more it is appreciated. If you plan to come to Germany i invite you for a couple of shots (as you seem to prefer the short form) or some beer which is served in 1 liter quantities (the long form):-) happy to support you and your site whereever possible. All the best Tibor The Cosmic Garden

    • August 10, 2012 6:43 am

      My pleasure, Tibor. I don’t believe in slamming music just because it doesn’t hit with me 100%. And my opinion is just one opinion. I always want people to judge for themselves. I don’t believe that a reviewer is the final aribter of what’s good.

      By the way, make sure you download Hypnagogue Podcast 87–”Where Have All the Flowergirls Gone” kicks off the second set of the podcast.

      And if I do make it to Germany, I’ll take you up on that drink. Same goes for you if you ever find your way to Boston!

      Thanks for taking the time to reply.

      • Tibor permalink
        August 10, 2012 8:23 am

        Will do – Boston and download the podcast! Thanks for both. Take care. Tibor

  4. Tibor permalink
    August 11, 2012 4:09 am

    Podcast: Great musical trip-worth listening, very recommended. i like the fade in from our Cosmic Garden track to the dubby Cyberchump track-inspirational path. Cyberchump and Kodomo, Juta Takahshi: i have to listen to more of these guys music.
    tibor

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