There's Drone music that's created with the help of synthesizers. Then there's the kind where cleverly filtered guitar layers are interwoven that merge perfectly with the synth structures so that listeners of the structuralist school cannot tell them apart anymore. But seldom is there Drone music with a glaring in-your-face attitude, mediating between acidified piles of guitars and shedloads of Shoegaze schemes. Think of the early works of Ben Frost, the Dark Ambient crypts of Svarte Greiner, the adamant guitar monotony of Ryonkt or the Punk attitude of Dreissk … and S ND Y P RL RS aka Sunday Parlours, the project of the up and coming Berlin-based Drone producer Malte Cornelius Jantzen who brings back the crunchy-grungy flavor into the subgenre that is otherwise ruled by a mellifluous mellowness in 2012. Drone music of the dreamy kind is the breed one encounters most often, so let me stress how refreshing – and intransigent – Jantzen's seven-track debut called Rex is. Released on Umor Rex in August 2012, his particular guitar treatment will be intriguing to fans of suspense movies, lovers of Dark Ambient and, yes yes, even the occasional Rock fan who is willed to soak in the meandering layers. Rex isn't about one single capricious mood, though. It oscillates between threatening, intimidating and incisive guitar layers, true, but at the same time, there's a great depth, warmth and even euphoria to be found. Despite quieter moments and carefully layered drones, this is a powerful album that boosts each respective emotion to the maximum and literally blasts away the Ambient-adjusted ears of a whole generation who grew up in the surroundings of stacked synth strata. If there's one particular Drone album of 2012 where fun and volume level coalesce and depend on each other, it's definitely Rex. Whereas other Drone albums unveil their multiple layers and particles on higher volume levels, the work of S ND Y P RL RS grows in voluminousness and saturation – clear-cut attributes of its Shoegaze roots. Let's see how intriguing this album really is.

Deserter launches the album with a warm glow. Golden shimmering, overdriven electric guitar layers evoke happiness of the majestic kind, and only occasionally does the slowly changing melody step over into melancholic territories, held and maintained in minor. The stuttering, pulsating crescendo of the guitar is in the spotlight all the time, literally bedazzling the listener, but at the same time there's brighter sparkles glistening in the fissures of the pulsating guitar. These are almost of an ecclesial nature. Are they remnants of a distant Hammond organ or an accordingly tweaked synthesizer? Whatever their origin is, they add an unexpected fragility to the mix that is counteracting against the brutish dominance of the main guitar. The song closes with a well-known formula, namely increasingly screeching twangs, followed by the impact of thunderous attacks. Up next is Twentyfour, a menacing mélange of bit-crushed bass bursts and warbled guitar thickets, but the main attraction is without a doubt the aural mirage of humanoid guitar layers that resemble a male voice. Or is it? It's permeating with the crunchy surroundings, and SN DY P RL RS sure got me fooled. The guitar thunderstorm is once again not all too baleful, but inherits enough traces of blithesomeness from Deserter to qualify as a pompous fanfare of contentment. Even the claustrophobia-evoking, bile-resembling staccato siren on the finish line cannot change the overall accessibility of this piece. The following vignette The Other Hand Is Good is yet again encapsulated in thermal guitar streams. It's the most melodious song so far, with rudimentary but definitely perceptible tone sequences and – now I'm sure – Jantzen's incomprehensible voice in the background, adding a human element to an already shiningly inviting track. The interplay between space, sound and sustain is much more important than the immersion of the drones. It's the only composition on Rex that doesn't rely on an opaque wall of guitars. It's all about the entanglement of the resonating sustain. The Other Hand Is Good almost resembles a test pattern of inspiring guitar riffs about to be used in a live context. The track title might be a verifying indicator about this perception.

Redeemer is the shortest track of the glorious seven, and it paints a superb panorama of opposite characteristics. Its wonderfully hazy guitar gusts depict a cozy capsule of shelter that is both inviting and mesmerizing. The bass drones are also helping, as they augment the feeling of being washed away. However, the celestial rapture is disturbed by darkly towering guitar strings that contain the kind of creepiness and baneful undertones that are often found in guitar-driven Dark Ambient tunes. Redeemer is purposefully indecisive about its focus, and though its track title suggests a saccharine incident, the gloomy guitar strings are foreshadowing devices of rough times. Before I overanalyze this particular gem, I better head to Take, and it is here when a completely new texture is slowly fading in: an eerily glacial guitar drone. It screeches, howls and contains remainders of static noise. It is all too soon fading into the distance, making room for Jantzen's spectral voice and the quavering strings of the well-known grunge guitar, but it leaves a lasting impression, revs up the tension and introduces a coldness that wasn't felt before. Or ever since, as the penultimate Give is the conceptual counterpart to it, and while one particular guitar layer is yet again crystalline and blue-tinted, it isn't as cold as it is foggy and enigmatic, providing a great background for the omnipresently pulsating, portentous screeching guitar drones. The tone shifts are too narrow to make a melody out of the various pulses. It's once again more about the aura, a suspenseful atmosphere rather than a carved out melody. The final Two Wrongs meshes sine bursts of high regions with muffled guitar twangs that seem to ramble along indifferently, implying contingency and chance as the process of their creation. SN DY P RL RS keeps the spirit of Rex alive on this track, but only in its initial two thirds, as the last part surprises with stomping, footstep-like guitar eruptions of the abyssal kind, distantly resembling Ennio Morricone's infamous Theme Of The Thing. Jantzen creates a dark vault in the finale, delivering his most terrifying track, succumbing to blood-curdling darkness and cryptic basslines. Rex thus ends in the most impressive manner. The formerly bright or at least grey setting of the album has now turned black. A terrific closing track.

The question I've asked myself repeatedly about the Ambient scene of 2012 is the following: "Where are the guitar layers?" Guitars were definitely used in many a Drone record, be it Cinchel's Stereo Stasis, Simon Scott's Below Sea Level or Be My Friend In Exile's How Do You Love?. And sure enough does one hear the acoustic guitars glimmer in-between the fractured spaces of the synthesizer-related sustain on the one hand, or the electric guitars waft perniciously in the all too present distance, depending on the characteristic traits of the respective work on the other. But never did the following alteration of the above question occur to me: "Where are the synthesizer layers?" The omission of synth-related ornaments is stunning and in strictly hellacious opposition to the gelid, click-heavy Glitch movement. Limited to 300 white vinyl copies with an integrated download card, Rex is a clarion and bold release that is going to hit Pop Ambient fans horrifyingly – I have been faltered as well! Dark Ambient followers will be intrigued immediately, as the song structures are often progressive, with a definite point of departure and exit marker – one doesn't realize this due to the high cohesiveness, but these coatings are unveiled after further listening sessions. And Shoegaze afficionados, probably the clearest target group of Rex, will be happy about the penetration of the mollifying, hammock-suggesting genre called Ambient. But seriously, listeners who long for synth washes to submerge in will be alienated all too much by Rex. That's fine, for there's plenty material out there that focuses on the specific needs of this audience, but not enough in the vein of Jantzen's gathered arrangements. So by all means, if you're viewing this release from a Rock angle, give it a go. The same goes for Drone listeners in general, as this record drones stronger than most of 2012's material (minus Ryonkt's Troposphere) and is indeed a signature release – there's anything like it on the market, and if there is, it falls prey to screeching darkness. S ND Y P RL RS, however, uses the smack of murkiness in order to fortify the elation. What a malicious move… what a coup de main!



Ambient Review 106: S ND Y  P RL RS – Rex (2012). Originally published on Aug. 8, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.