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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/08/2013

Sumsun Avey Oliver EP

One would be forgiven for recognizing the name Sumsun, but not exactly remembering the past work of the Floridian producer—it's been a while. Back in 2010, he emerged as a unique voice amidst the explosion of jittery, haze-filled tunes heard on Matthewdavid's Leaving label, as his debut album, Samo Milagro, explored blissfully static-laden electronics underpinned by straightforward dance rhythms. In the two years since then, Sumsun has had little in the way of output (aside from the occasional remix), but as the Avey Oliver EP shows, he's still managed to mature, developing a sound that captures his same intriguing slant on dancefloor-inspired music while successfully incorporating a more polished aesthetic.

There's a lot of ground shared by the three originals on this EP. Each tune takes shape within the more Balearic veins of house music—they're full of rich, sun-kissed chords, blanketed melodies, and fluttery assemblages of soft percussion and crystallized pads. But where Sumsun's earlier efforts were lined at the edges by tape hiss and the overdriven singe of gear pushed just beyond its limits, the sonics here are allowed plenty of room to breathe and, as a result, the low end is distinctly precise and the high end is effortlessly airy. This evolution in overall sound serves the Florida producer's style well.

"Avey Oliver" and "New Piano" are heavenly but also somewhat experimental ventures into the cosmic reaches of house music; they're not quite dancefloor oriented, nor are they exclusively headphone music. The pastoral, almost new age-sounding synths are the focus in both songs, as they're manipulated over the—at times—broken beats and pieced together to make memorable, vaguely poppy arrangements. "Lush House" seems to take more inspiration from club sounds, somehow managing to fit Night Slugs-style references into a similar sonic pallette and really making it work.

Unfortunately, the two reworks offered on Avey Oliver have trouble living up to the precedent set by Sumsun's original efforts. The Beat Broker "Dub Mix" takes "Lush House" just a few steps too far into retro-disco territory and Minilogue's epic, 17-minute remix of "New Piano" (alternately referred to as the "Ocean of Love" mix) lands upon some very interesting jazzy house ideas, but takes about five to 10 minutes longer than it should to present them all. In the end though, the remixes prove to be only minor speed bumps along what is an otherwise unexpectedly impressive record. With any luck, Sumsun won't take another two years to turn out another one.

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