1. Light in a Wasteland 7:50
2. Shadow on the Sun 5:33
3. Black City 7:56
4. Midday Trip 5:47
5. Freedom of the Sound 4:21
6. Freedom of the Light 8:25
Andrew Lee-Beth – guitars
Steve Kuddins – guitars
Maxim Erweiss – keyboards
Ilya Martynyuk – drums
The Russia-based outfit SUNRISE SUNSET PROJECT was formed by Andrew Lee-Beth and Steve Kuddins in 2003, with a vision to combine ‘70s art rock with jazz, ambient sounds and fantastic effects. Little is so far known about the band, and no credits are given on the CD itself. The stated line-up is the one given on their MySpace page. What is known is that the band was signed by Russian label MALS in 2009, and the album "Sunrise Sunset" is most likely their debut effort.
One of the bands that have inspired more future artists than anyone can keep track of is Pink Floyd. And while this highly prominent British act explored several styles of music in the 30 or so years they were active, it seems that their mid to late ‘70s period is the one most artists seek inspiration from – which is rather logical, as the albums released by them in those years are among the highest selling albums ever made, and household names for anyone with an interest in rock music. Sunrise Sunset Project is yet another act that looks towards that band in that specific period for inspiration. Their use of that inspiration isn't one overly explored though, but isn't one that will be lauded as original nor revolutionary either. Mellow, pastoral, subdued and dreamy are the main keywords I've noted for the six creations sporting this CD. Lush arrangements, a warm, analogue sounding mix and production for richly textured soundscapes broken up by ambient-sounding passages is a slightly more detailed overall description of this disc. Wandering undistorted and acoustic guitar patterns are key elements to the musical landscapes explored here, with dampened jazz-tinged guitar licks as the main variation thrown in from time to time. Organ and mostly vintage sounding keyboard textures harmonize and flesh out these efforts, more often than not in richly layered sonic tapestries. The stylistic expression is carefully psychedelic on most occasions, with the odd passage now and then with a sort of keyed down symphonic approach for variation. The final sonic spices applied are space-tinged guitar soloing very much in the manner of David Gilmour and a carefully driving and melodic bass line reminding perhaps a bit more of Eloy than of the already often mentioned Floyd. There's not much more to say about this production really. The compositions are well made and well performed, but the music as such isn't what one might describe as challenging, adventurous or original. It is a good album though, but not to the extent that it might be heralded as an essential one.
Those who enjoy the lighter, dreamier parts of Pink Floyds back catalogue should find this instrumental effort from Sunrise Sunset Project to be well worth checking out. Lightly psychedelic art rock with symphonic tendencies used to create dreamy, mellow sonic tapestries is what's served, and those who find that description tantalizing should get a lot of joy out of this album. In particular if they have a soft spot for ‘70s inspired, analogue-sounding, mix and production.
“Sunrise Sunset” belongs to the vast number of albums that, while well-executed and highly listenable, fail to actually impress on account of their somewhat derivative nature. A nicely packaged effort, with each of the six tracks illustrated by an endearingly na?ve picture, and the concept behind the album laid out in the CD booklet (which, on the other hand, is devoid of any information about the band), it showcases music that clearly harks back to the legendary albums released by Pink Floyd in the Seventies – those in which the English band’s psychedelic vein and spacey atmospheres seamlessly blended with a strong sense of melody. Indeed, quite a few passages on “Sunrise Sunset” might have been lifted right out of “Dark Side of the Moon” or “Wish You Were Here”. Though somewhat mysterious, the four members of Sunrise Sunset Project are certainly more than competent musicians, and they surely know their prog quite well. While I do not believe they are necessarily playing it safe, it is true that the album follows a very well-travelled path – which means it is quite likely to fly under the radar of most prog fans, mainly because it lacks a strong personal imprint. On the other hand, the music displayed on those six tracks is generally mellow and soothing, occasionally even beautiful, and kept to a very reasonable running time – at under 40 minutes, the average length of a vinyl album. The main problem with this disc, in my view, is its lack of variation. Though consistently classy and never jarring, some of the numbers border dangerously close to New Age, and harder-edged elements occur only sparingly – which sometimes lends the music a slightly soporific quality. Opening track Light in the Wasteland is probably the one item that offers the most variety, though the upbeat, Latin-flavoured section at its end feels somewhat at odds with the spacey nature of the rest of the track, enhanced by some noteworthy guitar work. Black City, at almost 8 minutes the second longest item, features a noticeably more tense atmosphere, where rarefied, atmospheric passages alternate with heavier, riff-based ones, with some jazzy touches thrown in for good measure. This is also the one track where the Pink Floyd references are the least evident, while they surface quite strongly in the following three items. Midday Trip offers some nice guitar-organ interplay, while the mini-suite Freedom of the Sound / Freedom of the Light is definitely guitar-oriented, with some nice acoustic touches and plenty of guitar soloing in the Gilmour mould. In spite of the reservations expressed in the previous paragraph, Sunrise Sunset Project are an interesting outfit, and I believe they will have a lot to offer once they find their own individual voice within the ever-growing progressive rock scene. As things are now, they should probably consider distancing themselves from the looming shadow of Pink Floyd (and, in some smaller measure, their German counterparts Eloy), as well as injecting a bit more variety into their music.
“Sunrise Sunset” is undoubtedly a very pleasant album, and an adequate debut for Sunrise Sunset Project. On the other hand, it tends to be a tad on the monotonous side, and might disappoint those fans who are looking for a more dynamic approach to music making – though fans of Seventies Pink Floyd are quite likely to appreciate it. Hopefully the band will develop a more personal style in their future releases.