Silicon Sun

Silicon Sun, Café Parisien, Portsmouth, 5th August 05

by SJY

So, a quick Silicon Sun primer - what's to like? There's a lot here, if you shake it around a bit and hold it up to the (Sun) light: from the snake-in-the-grass name (satisfyingly sibilant, and capable of any degree of meaning from moronic to profound) to the knight's-move songs and performances, always ready to catch you off-guard with an unexpected shift. But the real thing is that at their best these Portsmouth-based guys sound twisted. Swampy, loose, dirty, funky: Sun Ra and Muddy Waters jamming on Sister Ray. Sometimes the songs seem to grow from nowhere, coiling and creeping like jungle vines. Other times they bear down breakneck, out of control and exhilarating. You just never know. Seems as though the band change the way they play, every time they play. Like they inhabit the music, or it inhabits them. There's something good happening here. It was subdued, dark and kind of humid in the Café Parisien; switched from it's Clark Kent day job as a coffee-and-croissant eatery to a relaxed, easygoing venue that allows musicians to stretch out and breathe. The band fidgeted, kicked back, scratched and then manoeuvred their way through two sets of songs in their own, singular fashion. Singer Nik Karlberg, with wiry Johnny Depp beard and Triad hairdo - (d)ragged alter-ego Bethany long-gone - pushed his vocals out with soul and passion, albeit of that twisted kind. Guitar-wise, Nik delivers some choppy 60s garage-style rhythms, perfect foils to the very often Velvets-y flourishes provided by James Netting (Lisa reckoned that James is also a ringer for a young Jude Law, but I couldn't see it myself, and you shouldn't hold it against him anyhow). Ryan Thwaits and John Davison, drums and bass respectively, provide each song with as much or as little as it seems to need and the band can deliver Martian funk (see for example new-single-to-be Killing Time) to speedfreak punk (Rollercoaster Ride) at will. Problems? OK, from my point of view the instrumental jams towards the end of the night were... hmm... interesting but more songs would've been better. I don't know if Silicon Sun need to write more stuff, or just need the discipline to keep their noodling to the rehearsal room (yeah, it was a quiet-ish night, but even so...). Also, the vocals didn't cut through the mix very well - great sounds, passionately delivered, but I'd have liked to have made out the lyrics too. Keep an eye and an ear out for Silicon Sun though. They're bound to surprise you, seems they believe in what they do. If all else fails you can pass the time working out what that name actually means.