Review: Sun Hammer + Radere – Lotophagen

Having listened to the solo work of both Radere and Sun Hammer in the past, the listening experience has undoubtedly thrown up a few notable similarities. Both feel as though they evoke soundscapes hinged on physical experience and memory; nostalgic, sound-driven returns to fondly remembered places, sonic materialisations of current life circumstances, emotions let forth as surges of drone and pulse. Both artists operate with a very broad sonic palette – hauling together field recordings, guitars, a variety of electronics – thus enabling a very fluid and articulate externalisation of their thoughts and recollections.

So it’s no surprise that the pairing of such bold communicators produces a very dynamic and open musical conversation. Lotophagen accompanies a period of change and uprooting for both: Jay Bodley (Sun Hammer) moved from New York to Virginia and subsequently back to his hometown of Michigan, while Carl Ritger (Radere) was confronting a recent breakup and the unpleasant effect of the recession on his life. The record feels haunted by the sense of lives in flux – an unease that nudges the music continually through change, or leaves it poised in the discomfort of weighty, overbearing melancholy. Even when the ethereal, melodic backdrop slips into the return of stasis during the album’s fourth track, the foreground is constantly bubbling with activity, littered with scratchy fragments of noise that shower down on the ears like thousands of tiny pebbles.

Attributing individual textures to their respective maker is an impossible task, but the reactive dynamic between the sounds is nonetheless fantastic to observe – the players alternate between billowing across the high frequencies as ambient gas to surging into violent crackles of distortion and serrated noise attacks; often slipping gently into the company of eachother’s sounds, or occasionally drowning out the other in beautifully selfish explosions of static and harmony. As the solo efforts of both makers exhibits so effectively, Lotophagen manages to embed deeply personal dialogue – even the intimacy of their friendship and collaborative acquaintance in the making – within the context of hyper-detailed, immersive ambient panorama.