Kathy Slade and Brady Cranfield, 12 Sun Songs LP(2009) is published by Or Gallery and JRP|Ringier Kunstverlag AG, Zürich
This review was written by our SFU SCA summer intern, Cross Li. They are currently completing their BFA degree in Film Production and is exploring various areas in theatre, gallery installation, and film.
As a person whose childhood spanned the early 2000s, a part of me thought that some crucial contexts might be lost on me when I first listened to Kathy Slade and Brady Cranfield’s 12 Sun Songs (2009), an album that features covers of George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun and The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset, among other reimagined tracks. Having never been in direct contact with the original tunes of the 70s, there’s an element within these twelve songs that I will never have the ability to truly connect to: the nostalgia.
But around the fifth time I immersed myself in the album, I realized that my concern is quite silly when framed by 12 Sun Songs’ subject of interest,
if it’s not obvious enough,
In the liner notes, Peter Culley, beloved Canadian poet and critic, points out that the modern enjoyment of pop songs must be rooted in a folkloric and historical origin, and the Sun—the subject of focus in countless myths and ancient traditions—has evidently been the topic of songs throughout the ages. It’s no wonder that ancient civilizations around the world worshipped this huge burning sphere of hot gas, an entity that can, if not angered, seemingly ensure a bountiful and generous harvest year after year. Although we no longer worship the sun in the fashion of the past, our cherishment of this floating fire orb never seems to have faded. 12 Sun Songs, wryly parodying a 70s concept album, is a celebration of the sun through pop songs.
The album uses field recordings collected from various Vancouver nature sites along with sounds made by acoustic and electronic instruments. As a person who has been living in Vancouver—a city intertwined with forest and ocean—the subtle aural details of footsteps on dry grass, birds chirping, and the ambient sound of the sea spark a familiar comfort. The soft vocal harmonies bring out a lighthearted playfulness in tracks like Where evil grows and Here comes the sun, and serenity in Thank You and The Warmth of the Sun. The musical elements feature a mellow static similar to the one from a cassette player; the retro element blends surprisingly well with the sounds of nature. The overall album gives the feeling of a sunny day of aimless wandering in the forest from dusk to dawn.
With side A presenting the sunrise and side B the sunset, I often found myself putting on the A-side before getting ready for the day, and winding down with a cup of tea while the the B-side was playing in the evening. Even the colour of the record—true bright yellow—brings joy. When I first unpacked the album, I yelled out “It’s so bright!” due to the impressive colour saturation of the vinyl disc itself. During the typical rainy days of Vancouver, 12 Sun Songs is just the right dose of sunshine we need.
Cranfield and Slade’s 12 Sun Songs is available in the Or Bookstore!
12” Vinyl Record
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