Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Maximal minimalism: Suuns live in London

26 May 2016, 18:45 | Written by Russell Warfield

Nobody blends the minimal and the maximal better than Suuns. Space and silence sit alongside walls of pulverising noise, blending into a menacing, disorientating haze. It’s a singular experience, and tonight’s show (24 May) at London’s ICA confirms them as being one of the most accomplished live bands today.

This year’s Hold/Still was another stunning entry in an increasingly strong discography, and the new material is just as brilliant in concert as it is on record. Songs like “Instrument” take Suuns’ less-is-more approach to new plateaus – just one tiny throb of synth and a single-word spoken chorus making up the backbone of the song. Working at this level of intricacy, the addition of an element as small as a single note of guitar absolutely ruptures through the arrangement, cascading limitless new possibilities through its texture.

Compared to work as subtle as this, something like the collapsing riff of “2020” sounds positively ready for radio.

The set explores Suuns’ many contradictions. They are minimal as well maximal. They are cold and neutered as well as groovy and sexy. They are beautiful as well as frightening. They are anxious as well as relaxed. Songs like “Arena” manage to encompass all of these things at once; with its slow build towards groove and melody underpinning its snarling snatch of a chorus hook. Some songs are restrained and ethereal, like “Edie’s Dream”. Some songs take a scorched earth policy, like “Powers Of Ten”. But wherever they lie between these poles, their music is always transcendental.

One of tonight’s few complaints is that the sound isn’t always at the cutting edge of fidelity. The snares are sometimes lost in a muddy haze; the sharpness of details slightly blunted. When a band acts with the exactness of Suuns, and are attempting such a full sensory hijack, you want the bass to rattle your heart; you want the pulse of lights to scorch your retina, freakishly flitting between absolutely darkness and brief glimpses of silhouette. The aim is absolute sonic and visual obliteration.

At their best, this is what Suuns achieve. There are very few acts who are able to sustain the creeping dread which builds across the second half of “Pie IX”, while offering something which still has blood and energy. And with new songs like the skittering, twisted “Paralyser” at the heart of and tonight’s set, there’s every reason to believe that we’re still seeing Suuns ascending the curve of their career; becoming more and more proficient in their precision.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next