Holodeck Records has long stood as a purveyor of synth madness. They traverse the kosmiche highways as seasoned travelers release after release, and with the latest LP from Sungod, they’re still tapping deep into the cosmic well. Notably, though, Sungod have expanded their vision on Wave Refraction from the school of Goblin and Göttsching and the wider scope looks good on the Austin band. While the bedrock of analog keys remains, the band winds the expected synth strains through a psychedelic burner that’s burrowed in Prog – using those keys to reach ‘70s heights of power pomp and reaching for their inner Tangerine Dream. They skitter through the cross section of prog rock’s affiliation with jazz, peppering in mournful flutes, while breaking down into tumultuous drum workouts.
What makes the album work is that the band knows where to cut the stitching so that its not just a jumble of their pet indulgences bumping into one another. The album flows from the hard-edged Düül drop-in of opener “Little Gold Mouth,” back to their Goblin vamping Italo-horror sweep by the album’s close. The emotional heft moves from psych fury n’ fry to dosed Floyd numbness and into the good ol’ dystopian dynamics as they embrace the throttled glow of their tube-lit future. Its funny, as the prevalence of ‘70s soundtracks has exploded and in turn created an army of acolytes, the analog scene got a bit stale. There’s only so many times you can hear a band try to second hand Carpenter and spitball at Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante’s unique dynamic. In that regard its great to hear Sungod strive for much more.
Wave Refraction’s strength is that its not trying to imitate or recreate anything. Sungod have absorbed the touchstones they tug at and have found a way to let their own synthesis vision of prog prevail. The record winds up hairier and heavier for their troubles and the cohesive through line they cast gives the album a broken soul that bubbles to the surface listen after listen. If you don’t think you can stomach one more bubbling Korg, be ready to open up to Sungod’s solid inversion of a genre gone mad.
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