There is always that moment when I feel inclined to reach for an album by Nick Drake, Low, Neil Young or the Kings of Convenience; when nothing else will suffice, but a hit of introspective acoustic style songs. Sound Sanctuary have found their way into that special place inside my record collection, mentally catalogued as “songs for that time of the night”.
Sound Sanctuary mix up art rock with a dash of folk to create a blissed-out sound filled with chiming guitars, head nodding basslines and 60′s style West Coast pop vocal harmonies. For this album, Bombay Monkey are on production duties and have provided an atmospheric, trip hop style backdrop for this set of memorable songs.
“Dust” pulls off a similar trick to The Kings Convenience album “Quiet is the new loud”; where the initial sound of the album is soothing, but a closer listen to the lyrics makes you realize that something darker is going on. To my ears “Quiet is the new loud” is an album about unrequited love, whereas “Dust” explores a slightly different territory about the tensions within existing relationships.
The album opens very strongly with 3 potential singles: “Dust”, “Enemy” and “Broken Signs”. The lyrics of these tracks set up the themes of the album with images of the aftermath of conflict, confusion and a plea for reconciliation. “Kamikaze Dreamer” and the new wave bass driven “Mexico” are other highlights, but this is an album I can listen to from start to finish and not feel the need to hit fast forward.
In 2008 Nick Luscombe demonstrated impeccable taste and set up a “Lo-tek” label showcase at his Flo-Motion evening. Needless to say Sound Sanctuary performed an intimate and involving live set with some good humoured banter.
Sound Sanctuary have delivered an album of heartfelt acoustic music with a contemporary twist.
For this Kent based 4 piece, these are the first fresh fruits since 2005's 'Contact' mini-album and once again contains those "...watercolour miniatures..." that 'Musicom' heard when they imagined "Brian Eno producing The Everly Brothers...". It's more likely that you'll hear Gomez, a likeness that shines through on the lead track and the group's spacious production allows the room to fully appreciate their sound.
This is a number that howls pop and when you reach the B-side 'Collector', you'll be able to see the western deserts and cowboy's riding across them. In this new single the group have created something quite unexpected that should act as a good starting point for a career that should shin
"I'm totally into this. I'm going to be playing this on the radio this Sunday and at home for the rest of the summer - great production, cool songs!"
With Broken Signs, Sound Sanctuary have succeeded where so many bands before them have failed - in breaking the mould; being different. If Richard Ashcroft ever had a secret lovechild with Suzanne Vega, I would expect the resulting spawned musical genius to produce something like this.
"There's a touch of Paul Weller to Fades Away and Invisible but for the most part if you close your eyes and imagine Simon and Garfunkel gone electronica you won't be far off."
The Contact EP contains six variations on a pastoral, very British kind of song writing. The gently strummed guitars and vocal harmonies call to mind a punting trip with Turin Brakes scoffing food from the hamper while Steven Duffy and Nick Drake squabble over the quant.
The lead track, Summit Of The Big Low, is the most conventional pop moment on the EP. A stuttering echoing snare drum and twisted interlocked guitars weave a delicate sugar spun web for the blissful vocals. A huge reverb drenched riff leaps out of the chorus before the song swerves back into its mournful chord progression.
Invisible is strange hybrid of Echo And The Bunnymen styled guitars, all shards of glacial melody and restrained pomp that is anchored by a lackadaisical baggy beat. Ambient sound and vocal snippets float through the mix creating a dreamy heady flow. Imagine Brian Eno producing The Everly Brothers in an overgrown suburban greenhouse.
The wistful fractured nature of the production continues throughout the remaining tracks Tu De Che, Akin To Chaos, Why and Fades Away. Acoustic guitar figures, sampled voices, sound effects, multi tracked vocals and the odd rattle of percussion. It's like waking after a lunchtime drink, blinking into the hot summer sun. Half awake, half cut and surprised by the bright light.
There is a sly imagination at work here and a gift for melody. These are beautiful watercolour miniatures. Not groundbreaking but pleasant and intriguing. Tune in and float down stream.
I happened upon this group at the Troubador in London one evening. No preconceptions, i had heard the name and that was it. A few months later and the album I bought on the night is an absolute favourite. In fact, one of the best I have ever heard. Because if you critique something by the simple method of asking what is being attempted and whether it succeeds, you just couldn’t fault this set. I keep playing it, I never tire of it.
The Sound Sanctuary vibe is mellow and built on light guitar patterns, easy percussive grooves and subtle basslines, plus very clever and mood-enhancing sampling – sometimes of beach sounds or light winds or conversations. PLUS the most beautiful and harmonic singing you could ever imagine. It’s warm, honeyed and addictive – obviously influenced by Crosby & co/Buffalo Springfield but not Americana’d by any means. Neither is it Anglo-folk corny and overwrought ! What a find…
Despite the group’s soft-sound approach the music itself is meaty and rhythmic and perversely what comes across is how strong the material and the playing is. A million miles from the cod-drama of the Meatloaf’s and Mika’s of this world, this music connects by its rooting in organic and heartfelt elements but no yelling or phony trappings. Quite wonderful and i have long since surrendered to the insistent ‘Enemy’, the introspective pumping groove of ‘Broken Signs’ and the twinkling handclapped spaced-out, lament ‘Got The Feeling’. Woven melodies and just-right instrumentation build a set of atmospheres that create addiction.
Sound Sanctuary are in a part of the music world that they have created them selves and the only thing that is even remotely similar would be Public Symphony who also craft a sound avoiding the cliches most other acts pile on with no shame. Truly deserving of a fair hearing if any act ever was !
"I was quite taken with the Kent quartet’s Contact EP of three years back, likening them to an electronica Simon & Garfunkel. Now comes the full album, which may take a while to seep inside the head but proves worth the patience to let its charms reveal themselves. A burnished cocktail of folk, trip hop, 60s West Coast pop and blissed out art rock... They magic chilled summer night moods out of Mexico and Kamikaze Dreamer, do the soft funk hump with Got The Feeling, surf the skies on the psychedelic 60s inspired title track, and explore George Michael soul alleyways with Enemy. The lurched narcotic noir of Blonde Prey and the spaced vibes and guitar explorations of Under The Radar also suggest those Folktronica Trip Hop Radiohead labels aren’t wide of the mark."
"Wow, where to begin? At first sight of Sound Sanctuary's artwork, one wouldn't know exactly where to place the band. Indie posers? Disparate wannabes? Or maybe, just maybe, they're something totally unique and harbour the kind of musical gems us mere mortals can only dream of. Happily, it's the latter on this flawlessly beautiful outing from this generation's Radiohead. From the sweet melodies of 'Dust' to the mournful 'Carried Away', via the trip-hop manglings of 'Blonde Pray', Sound Sanctuary have given us a stunning platter of indie-esque art rock that lays claim to no one genre, instead it adapts every genre from blues to electronica, from soul to rock to create something truly unique."
The term sanctuary is usually used to describe a place of refuge or safety from danger, so you would expect a band that goes by the name of Sound Sanctuary to offer up a little calmness in a crazy world. 'Broken Signs' is definitely capable of making the listener seem to relax. It's a little bit hazy and woozy, definitely the soundtrack whilst coming down or going through a period of reflection. The reliance on the guitar strum and the heavily treated vocals has an other worldly feel to it and it can take a few listens for the different layers to seep through but it's still rather enjoyable, with the chorus really lifting the song to a higher plane.
Both tracks have added snippets and samples that filter their way into the introductions to create an extra element, meshing with the downbeat strum to perhaps give the idea of radio interference cutting through the track. The harmonious flow of the track, and the afore mentioned additions, brings to mind the Beta Band and their genre-blending. Although The Aliens have their moments, their is still no real successor to the might (at their best and if you ignore their first proper album) of The Beta Band. The lyrics have an ethereal feel to them as well, in the space of a few lines managing to debate the existence of God, Love and Rock n Roll, so if you're looking to stretch your mind a bit, theres anothere reason to give this track a run-out.
So it's a comfortable introduction to Sound Sanctuary, it's good to be able to say that they lived up to their name and that there is every chance that the band could be a success but hopefully their live shows will provide some more excitement to keep the evening going.