SUUNS

Hold/Still, the third studio album from Suuns, is an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. It is a record that does not give up its secrets easily. The 11 songs within are simultaneously psychedelic, but austere; sensual, but cold; organic, but electronic; tense sometimes to the brink of mania, but always retaining perfect poise and control. "There's an element of this album that resists you as a listener, and I think that's because of these constantly opposing forces," says drummer Liam O'Neill. "Listen to the song 'Brainwash', for instance, "It's a very soft, lyrical guitar song, existing alongside extremely aggressive and sparse drum textures. It inhabits these two worlds at the same time." From the beginning, Suuns (you pronounce it "soons", and it translates as "zeroes" in Thai) have sought to do things differently. They formed in Montreal 2007, when singer/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist Joe Yarmush got together to work on some demos, soon to be joined by Liam, Ben's old schoolfriend, on drums and Max Henry on synth. Their group's first two records, 2010's Zeroes QC and 2012's Polaris Prize-nominated Images Du Futur — both released on Secretly Canadian — were immediate critical hits, and Suuns soon found themselves part of a late '00s musical renaissance in the city, alongside fellow groups like The Besnard Lakes, Islands and Land Of Talk. Still, at the same time, Suuns feel remote from the big, baroque ensembles and apocalyptic orchestras that typify the Montreal scene. "We write quite minimal music," thinks Ben. "They're not traditional song forms, sometimes they don't really go anywhere — but they have their own kind of logic." Or as Joe puts it: "It's pop music, but sitting in this evil space." After two records produced by their friend Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes at his Montreal studio Breakglass, Suuns decided Hold/Still demanded a different approach. In May 2015, they decamped to Dallas, Texas to work with Grammy- winning producer John Congleton (St Vincent, The War On Drugs, Sleater- Kinney). For three intense weeks, the four recorded in Congleton's studio by day, the producer driving them to capture perfect live takes with virtually no overdubbing. At night, they returned to their cramped apartment and stewed. "Recording in Montreal, it's more of a party atmosphere," says Joe. "Here it felt like we were on a mission. We were looking for something to take us out of our element, or that might seep into our music." Luckily, the effect was galvanizing. Under Congleton's instruction, 'Translate' and 'Infinity', songs the group had been reworking for years, suddenly found their form. The result is undoubtedly Suuns' most focused album to date, the sound of a band working in mental lockstep, crafting a guitar music that feels unbeholden to clear traditions or genre brackets. From the haunted electronic blues of 'Nobody Can Save Me Now' to throbbing seven-minute centrepiece 'Careful', Hold/Still foregrounds the work of Max, a synthesizer obsessive who builds hisown patches and confesses to using cranky or budget equipment as well as top-of-the-range kit because "[good gear] does all the work for you, and that's not always fun". Certainly, this is a band as inspired by the dark groove textures of Andy Stott, the flourishing arpeggios of James Holden or the serrated productions of Death Grips as anything familiarly rock. "Things don't feel right until they've been touched or cast over in an electronic light," elaborates Liam. "It's rare that acoustic drum kit, guitar, and bass comprise a finished product for us. For a song to be Suuns, it has to be coloured by electronics". Certainly this remains a band in love with the aesthetic of obscurity. The album cover is an image of Ben's former workmate Nahka, who was captured by photographer Caroline Desilets using a pinhole camera with a four-minute exposure time — Hold/Still, indeed. In another contradiction, this record finds Ben's vocals far more enunciated and upfront than before. If there are themes that tie Hold/Still together, says Ben, they might be investigations "about sex... perhaps not the act specifically, just [themes] of a sexual nature. But there's also a spiritual undertone that points to another kind of searching." The sexual is illustrated in the dark romance of 'Careful', while longing becomes both sexual and spiritual in the thirsty pleas of 'Instrument': "I wanna believe/I wanna receive..." The spiritual takes over on the back half of the record. 'Nobody Can Save Me Now' evokes artist Tracey Emin's ghostly invocation For You at the Liverpool Cathedral: "I felt you / and I knew that you loved me", while side B opener 'Brainwash' wonders: "Do you see, all seeing? / Do you know, all knowing?" In a cultural centre like Montreal, bands can get too comfortable playing to their peers. Suuns, though, feel like a band always looking to the nearest border. They found early audiences in France and in Belgium, where they curated the Sonic City Festival in 2012, booking acts as diverse as Swans, Tim Hecker and Demdike Stare. Meanwhile, the last couple of years have seen them tour as far afield as Mexico, Morocco, Beirut, Taiwan and Istanbul — sometimes with friend Radwan Moumneh of the multimedia project Jerusalem In My Heart, with whom they released a brilliant collaborative record, Suuns And Jerusalem In My Heart last year. "We tour a lot as a band and we've been all over the map at this point," says Ben. "There is a concerted effort on our part, when the opportunity arises, to do that. It's like, this time, let's try to go further east, let's try to go further south. You find yourself playing in front of people who don't get bands playing in front of them often, and that can be really fun." In short, good things happen when you venture outside of your comfort zone — a truth that you could equally apply to Hold/Still itself: an album which derives its eerie power from simmering tensions and strange, stark juxtapositions, and in doing so, directs rock music down a new, unventured path.

WATCH // Suuns Share ‘Sunspot’ Video Dir. By Ben Shemie, Tour UK And Europe In September + October

Celebrating newly announced UK + European tour dates this fall, SUUNS have shared a short film featuring ‘Sunspot’ from their 2013 release Images du Futur. Premiering via The Quietus and directed by band frontman Ben Shemie, the 30 minute music video delves into the ideas of repetition and absolution of sin. Watch the video above or here on Youtube.

For more on the story behind the new video, Ben explains below:

“This video is based around hands. Dirtying ones hands, blood on the hands, and cleansing ones hands of sin are the themes that drive the imagery in this video. I saw Richard Serra’s ‘Hand Catching Lead’ video at the Metropolitan museum in NY a few years ago. Despite all the monumental works, this small raw video stuck with me the most. Something about the simplicity about looking at the artist’s own hands, the realness was very intense. It is Serra’s work that provides the visual inspiration behind this video.

“The compulsion of washing ones hands – absolution of sin – is very powerful. This compulsive behavior, regardless of the context, can relate to all of us. This one-take sequence that closes the video is not only physically demanding, but also very challenging to the viewer. Repetition, the common thread of the droney nature of Suuns’ music, plays tricks on our sense of time and drives the fanatical and compulsive themes of the video to the edge of our tolerance.”

If you haven’t already, pick up their Polaris Prize nominated album from last year, Images Du Futur via your local record store, iTunes, Amazon, and SC Distribution.

SUUNS’ UK/EU 2014 TOUR DATES:
[all dates + tix links: secretlycanandian.com/tour]

26th Sept Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Psych Fest – get tickets
29th Sept London, UK – Village Underground, London – get tickets
30th Sept Ghent, BE – Vooruit
1st Oct Paris, FR – Gaite Lyrique
2nd Oct Amsterdam, NL – Tolhuistuin
3rd Oct Copenhagen, DK – Vega
4th Oct Oslo, NO – Revolver
6th Oct Stockholm, SE – Kagelbanan
7th Oct Gothenberg, SE – Pustervik
8th Oct Helsinki, FI – Kuudes Linja
11th Oct Istanbul,TR – Salon IKSV

ON TOUR // SUUNS Announce New European Dates Starting In May

See some newly announced European tour dates below for SUUNS this May and June.

If you haven’t already, pick up their Polaris Prize nominated album from last year, Images Du Futur via your local record store, iTunes, Amazon, and SC Distribution.

TOUR DATES:

5/29 | THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG FESTIVAL – NIMES (FR) – [TIX]
5/31 | NUITS SONORES FESTIVAL – LYON (FR) – [TIX]
6/01 | MAGNOLIA – MILANO (IT) – [TIX]
6/02 | CHELSEA – VIENNA (AT) – [TIX]
6/04 | BEACHES BREW FESTIVAL – RAVENNA (IT) – [TIX]
6/06 | PLISSKEN FESTIVAL – ATHENS (GRE) – [TIX]
6/07 | EINDHOVEN PSYCHLAB – EINDHOVEN (NL) – [TIX]
6/08 | ZOOM – FRANKFURT (GER) – [TIX]
6/09 | MEETFACTORY – PRAGUE (CZ) – [TIX]
6/10 | FORUM STADTPARK – GRAZ (CZ) – [TIX]
6/11 | MOCVARA – ZAGREB (CRO) – [TIX]
6/13 | FEST’NEUCH, NEUCHATEL (CH) – http://www.mochvara.hr/“>[TIX]
6/14 | B-SIDES FESTIVAL, LUZERN (CH) – [TIX]

REMIXES // SUUNS Release Remixes Of ‘Images Du Futur’ On Turbo Recordings, Now On Tour In France And Europe

Suuns released Images Du Futur earlier this year and now Montreal-based electronic label Turbo Recordings released a new collection of remixes of the album. Hear remixes from Clouds, joeFarr, It’s A Fine Line, and Ivan Smagghe here on Soundcloud or below. Buy the remixes on iTunes here.

Read more to see the Band’s tour dates and ticket links for shows in France and Europe starting tonight!
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WATCH // Suuns “2020” Soundtrack Trailer to ‘Only God Forgives’ Starring Ryan Gosling, Release Live Blogotheque Session

Suuns has been busy continuing their tour through Europe hitting major festivals like Roskilde, Glasgtonbury, and Dour Festival. Now, their song “2020” is the soundtrack for the new UK trailer of Only God Forgives, used to build tension over snapshots of brutal action and the neon-illuminated streets of Bangkok. Watch the trailer for the film above or HERE on YouTube. The film, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn of Drive fame, is out now On Demand, in limited theaters in the US, and is soon to be released in the UK on August 2nd. “2020” is from Suuns newest album, Images du Futur, available through SC Distribution. See BELOW for their live La Blogotheque Session and a list of live tour dates in the UK and US!

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AUDIO

Gazelles In Flight by Suuns
2020 by Suuns

TOUR DATES

03/19/16
Azores, PT - Tremor Festival

04/07/16
Ste-Therese, Quebec - Bar Le Cha-Cha

04/09/16
St. Casimir, Quebec - La Taverne

04/15/16
Quebec City, Quebec - L'Anti

04/16/16
Carleton, Quebec - Le Naufrageur

04/20/16
Montreal, Quebec - La Tulipe

04/21/16
Ottawa, Ontario - St. Alban's Church

See all upcoming shows

AGENT CONTACT

US BOOKING
Robin Taylor, Inland Empire
robin@inlandempiretouring.com
(718)389-7100

CANADIAN BOOKING (Ex-Quebec)
Adam Countryman The Agency Group
adamcountryman@theagencygroup.com
(416) 368-5599 x 3239

QUEBEC BOOKING
Andre Guerette, The Agency Group
AndreGuerette@theagencygroup.com
office: (514) 940-0616
mobile: (514) 713-6576

Europe/UK:
Belmont Bookings
Bob van Heur
bob@belmontbookings.nl
31 20 61 62 612