NPR logo Viking's Choice: Sunwatchers, 'Herd Of Creeps'

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Viking's Choice: Sunwatchers, 'Herd Of Creeps'

Sunwatchers. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Sunwatchers.

Courtesy of the artist

Remember that "mindblowing psychedelia from Thailand" YouTube video from five years ago, with the pan-generational band (Khun Narin), a hodgepodge of percussion, and a dude wailing on an electric, double-necked stringed instrument called a phin? It's still a trip to watch. Now imagine those droning Thai folk melodies getting blasted through a motorik rhythm section and blown out by a saxophone — that's the cosmic modus operandi of Sunwatchers.

The psychedelic New York freak-jazz band features members of Arthur Doyle's New Quiet Screamers, NYMPH, Chris Forsyth's Solar Motel Band, and Dark Meat. (Full disclosure: Once upon a time, I released very limited CD-Rs of various Dark Meat side projects on a long-dead label.) Like many of those bands, the goal here is to stir the disparate elements into oblivion, as heard in "Herd The Creeps," a James Brown rave-up run through Hawkwind's space-rock machine. As Jeff Tobias' alto sax and guest fiddler Jonah Rapino hold and break the frontline melody, Jim McHugh lets the electric phin drone over Jason Robira's rambling drums, and Peter Kerlin throws down a hard R&B bass line. It's wild and weirdly zen-like in its ecstatic pulse.

Sunwatchers comes out March 11 on Castle Face.

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