Album Reviews

The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion

(Memphis Industries) UK release date: 3 March 2008

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be hard, butyou’re going to have to accept that calling a songKenya Dig It? can be forgiven. Because if you don’t,if you judge The Ruby Suns by their track listingalone, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice.

Try to put all scepticism out of your mind andinstead imagine a huge, pregnant desert sun, hangingin air so warm it burns, so still there’s no breeze tooffer respite, under a sky so wide you’re not surewhere it ends and where the Earth begins. Imagineyou’re barely awake, losing yourself in an horizon sofar from the urban sprawl that you can’t even rememberhow you got here as your heart beats in time tohalf-imagined drums.

Sea Lion, the second album from New Zealandswoonsters The Ruby Suns brings together what youmight imagine Aborigine Dreamtime to sound like withAfrican desert soundscapes and Californianexperimentalism. Think Lemon Jelly with betterweather and the odd hula beat. Drift away in theplains and awake on a Sumatran beach, with sandbeneath your toes and the wind in your hair.

The album may dart around the globe, but thefeeling of space remains, whether its the Mesa, theMojave or the Maasai, there’s a sense of music olderthan time, of eternity itself dissipating around thecurrent moment as you sink into the rythmns of theEarth and become one with it. There Are Birds inparticular floats off in an otherworldly drift.

Ruby Sons belong somewhere between The BeachBoys at their most blissed, world music at itsmost bearable, a night around a Polynesian campfireand Kieran Hebden on an Hawaiian holiday.Suffused with synths, the sound of warm summer seasand gentle drums, Sea Lion conjures up a world ofdelicate beauty.

And terrible though the title is, Kenya Dig It?turns out to be one of the album’s standout tracks,with an almost Disney-like quality to its swirls andturns, an out-take from The Lion King soundtrack orthe theme for an Arabian princess. Through it all,voices weave in and out without ever really intruding,like whispers on the sunset.

The result is warm, dreamy, evocative andbeautiful, a worthy successor to 2005’s self-titleddebut and an album to savour under the late eveningsun, once the summer arrives.

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The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion