Album of the Day: Jeff Snyder, “Sunspots”

By turns mischievous, sinister, and soulful, Sunspots is a reminder that the synthesizer’s possibilities are endless. Recorded in Stockholm on a vintage Buchla, the double-LP debut from Jeff Snyder has a clever structure: Disc 1 lures the listener in with wigged-out, funhouse roughage before Disc 2 prescribes intensive, cranial massage therapy.

At the outset, the Princeton, NJ-based musician’s homemade sequencer eagerly twists and crimps the Buchla’s golden tones. “Sunspots IV” resembles an out-sound survey course, its Autechre-esque pocks, pops, and swoops next door to astringent, three-dimensional tonalities and bloodshot, klaxon chords. Blearier and more crepuscular, “Sunspots V” corrals its movements into a collective, minimalist simmer.

On Sunspots’s back-end, Snyder marshals his improvisational powers. “Sunspots VIII” is broiling psychedelia, the ringing pitch it builds to suggest hula-hoops circulating like insects in slow motion. Meanwhile, closer “Sunspots IX” layers bass chords to discordant distraction; the elongated result—a generative, thrumming brownout drone, restless, endless, somehow obscene—feels so hideously wrong that, ultimately, it’s marvelously right.

Raymond Cummings

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