Shuteye Unison - Shuteye Unison (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Shuteye Unison

Shuteye Unison (2008)

Parks and Records

Atmospheric rock can be pretty hit or miss. All too often, the music sounds too distant to leave a lasting impression or serve as anything more than background noise. Granted, it's not easy to create something that stands out while still sounding, I dunno, aloof and spaced out. But sometimes a band comes along that does a nice job of honing in on that dynamic and creating a record that fits the bill for how good music within this genre should sound. Today, Shuteye Unison is that band and their self-titled debut is pretty enjoyable.

The segue from instrumental intro "Crf030608" into "Tomorrow's Five Horizons" is seamless. The jagged guitars utilized here remind this reviewer of something off The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and the vocal approach employed here is soft and soothing, complementing the aforementioned guitars nicely instead of overpowering them. The activity in the rhythm section increases in the song's last minute, with forceful pounding drums and plenty of cymbal crashes that build tension. The song ends there, which is slightly disappointing, but the buildup was strong enough for it to not be a huge detractor.

"Fields Landing" is one of two opuses on the record, a seven and a half-minute epic with positively haunting vocal effects, droning keyboards and a gently strummed guitar that sets a rather somber tone in the song's first half. About five minutes into the song, distorted guitars kick in accompanied by heavy, crashing drums. The soft vocals sound more distant than ever here, but part of me thinks that was the point.

"Latin Metrics" and "Slow Ravens" are the next two tracks here, the former a dancy, almost Pinback-esque jam rife with interesting percussion and the latter a simpler, slower ballad that features more distorted guitars toward the end of the song to create an effective quiet/loud dynamic.

"Through Dunes" closes out this record on a high note, and despite its nine and a half-minute running time, never feels too long or too forced. The vocals are, once again, rather distant and echoey, creating an ambiance enhanced to near-perfection by the restrained guitar tones and sporadic drumming. Over six minutes go by before heavy, low-end Hum-esque guitar and drums kick in and the juxtaposition of that and the strange background noise makes for an entertaining listen.

At six songs and 31 minutes, this release is somewhere between an EP and a full-length, but regardless, it never really runs out of breath before the finish line. Shuteye Unison have created something awfully ambitious and managed to make it distinct and engaging without sounding forced or contrived.