Focus is an important element of a lot of today’s subgenres of music, and I can think of no better theme with which to initiate this review of Daughters of the Sun’s “Rings.” Partly a strong record of weirdo guitar/vocal/electronic psychedelia and partly an oddly placed selection of otherwise great field recordings from India, “Rings” is a record that seems to almost too diverse, awkwardly jutting askew in too many directions for its own good. I’ll flesh out this dichotomy a little more for you.
Perhaps striving with lustful ambition toward collage tendencies, it invokes an undeniable tension amid its innate beauty and strangely misplaced patchwork elements. In other words, DOTS manage to lose the roundness and focus that this slab needs-- and possesses, right up until the ethnomusicologist urge sets in on the lengthy final cut. The strange addition of those field recordings tilts the CD headlong into a spiral of unnecessary, even borderline pretense and confusion.
The opener, “Himalaya” heralds a solid foundation, sporting spot-on tribal toms and a sampling of wonderfully picked, even noodling guitar accompanied with vibrant color washes for accent and personality. The core then gradually morphs into some outstanding acid-stained, semi-destroyed lichen-laced leads and sweeping keys. At this point, the vocals and lyrics are perfect for their brand of dense, chem-pop insanity.
From the outset, the deceivingly reckless guitar abandonment, supported by a tribal edge of percussion and drums and rich electronics and submerged vocals all seem to fall into place rather well. Yet those first five songs, with all their blitzed glory and flagrantly cracked-up aesthetics, regrettably fade into a final cut of manipulated field recordings that seem to detract from the completeness of “Rings,” rather than augment an otherwise lovely and warped record.
Ultimately, I think the answer probably resides in their adeptness of performing this material live. I’m torn between being enamored with their potential outside the comfy amenities of the studio and the reality of a band struggling with the challenge of performing such a processed music live—though I can think of similar bands who do it and do it well. But there have been exceptions. I recall Faust falling flat on their naked asses in Atlanta—and it was a sad but comic thing to behold. This challenge isn’t a bad thing; and DOTS is far from a bad band/recording project—not even close. There are plenty of great moments here, breathtaking peaks even, but there are also times which seem to suggest all the dots aren’t quite connected yet—that a unifying direction has yet to be defined and I think it has to do with sequencing the field recordings at the end of the CD which ultimately gives the record a stitched-together feel.
True, there are several extraordinary heights during this portion of the disc, but unfortunately they come off as an arbitrary inclusion into a fairly anomalous rock record and add no real contrast, compliment or relevance. Ostentatious is probably too strong a word, but instead of these field recordings lending themselves to the greater whole of the album, the end result seems more like patchwork than a fluid trip guided by a greater, more sophisticated (or if you prefer, totally fucked) concept. The record is shy of possible greatness because of a misplaced jigsaw piece from another box. The field recordings here stymie an otherwise oddball document of stylish, weirdo anti-pop fuzz n huzz. But that’s my only beef, and DOTS’ “Rings” deserves a wealth of attention. 6/10 -- P. Somniferum (15 July, 2009)