Zun’s new hallucinatory desert rock triumph Burial Sunrise exists in the space between dream and the waking world, six very rewarding tracks that are almost like an audio version of a soothing Netflix and chill session with Carlos Castaneda. Featuring several of the most underrated musicians in rock (John Garcia may have been in Kyuss but most of the post Kyuss mainstream glory went to QOTSA), this release is a big win for stoner rock.
Guitarist Gary Arce, long of Yawning Man affiliation, creates a beautiful tapestry of light, dancing guitar throughout a record that feels like a longer and more immersive journey than the six tracks would have you believe at first glance. Electric sitar augmentation from Robby Krieger and excellent tribal drumming throughout from Bill Stinson perfectly compliment passages that glow like the most shimmering moments of Daydream Nation if re-imagined as watery desert rock.
The closest recent compatriot to this album in tone might be Dylan Carlson of Earth’s excellent DrCarlsonAlbion solo record Gold, another album which stretched notes out gloriously like it was scoring a Tony Hillerman Navajo themed novel. Think less the seedy intro music for Breaking Bad than an uplifting windowpane acid wash of guitar, albeit in Zun’s case paired with gently asserted yet powerful vocals.
Yes, the vocalists make a big mark here. John Garcia shows his wide range in particular on “All For Nothing”, a plea for avoiding being disillusioned. You aren’t sure if he is singing about a relationship, a drug recovery or other efforts when Garcia sings ,”Don’t let it be in vain. Don’t let it fry my brain.” Whatever the case, the almost poppy vocal for Garcia connects in a relatable way over a rolling bassline that could fit on some hypothetical mash up between Jane’s Addiction and Mark Lanegan.
“All That You Say I Am” is not a distant cousin to a certain Eminem hit, but rather a proggy yet laidback number that wouldn’t be out of place on the tripper B-side of Tool’s 10,000 Days if it weren’t for the creamy, almost Mark Knopfler-esque vocal from a very assured Garcia.
The other primary vocalist in Zun is the mystical goddess Sera Timms of underground occult rockers Ides Of Gemini, whose recent moody masterpiece of a single “Carthage” is hands down one of the best avant-garde rock songs of the last half decade and change in large part to the haunting apotheosis of Timms skill and a monstrously bad ass guitar riff at the 1:37 mark. Timms sometimes rings close in tone to fellow super talent Rebecca Vernon of Utah doomers SubRosa, but on the Zun record she really opens things up a bit more. “Solar Incantation” in particular has a great throbbing bassline and a dreamy chanted vocal from Sera that evokes a vast sky. Wandering in the wasteland never felt so good.
The only way, frankly, that this could have been more rewarding is if we had both vocalists singing together more rather than alternating tracks, but it is a small gripe as Burial Sunrise presents a glorious, heat baked yin and yang balance for serious lovers, dreamers and me.