After the recent rather excellent debut, “The Discipline of Assent”, Sun River colleagues, bassist/guitarist Martin Rude and Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skøtt made a swift return to the studio last July. Their first record was a result of improvisational jams subsequently layered with studio effects and electronic sounds almost, it appeared, as an afterthought. For “The Dichotomy of Control”, the duo took a more considered, pre-planned approach incorporating several takes and greater integration of sounds other than double bass or guitar and drums.
The album opener, “Ode to Sadiq” slowly introduces spacious double bass lines intertwined with drums and percussion. There’s more of a band-like sound to this, it doesn’t feel like a rhythm section jam which was the prevalent vibe on the previous record. “Memory Tree” is a sunny laid back guitar with pastel shades of vibes. Like on the previous record, the tracks switch between often raucous double bass or wholesome psych-folk guitar picking but this time, with the new integrated mixes, the join is less obvious.
The murky, abstract electronic beginnings of “Quem Não Arrisca” coalesce into a mutant walking bass line. The juxtaposition of swinging groove and jarring electronic sounds is exciting and slightly disorientating. Abstract electronic sounds are also incorporated in “Shadowland” adding cosmic filigree to the psych haze. The rhythm section hits harder on the standout track, “The Veil”, the energetic drums and repeating bass line pushes against the studio effects and hits a groove decorated by twittering flute-like effects and Hawkwind trademark synthy swooshes. The intensity of The Veil gives way to the bracing early morning feel of “Epictetus Wash” with arpeggiated guitar and ethereal wafts of woodwind type colour.
“The Rest of the Way” begins the flip side in the same mood as to where side one left us. Folky fingerpicking is accompanied by sympathetic drumming and lush mellotron-like ‘strings’. Double bass returns for the sparser, noir-ish “Une Découverte Retentissante” that slowly builds to the vigorous hard rock climax. Of course, in the footsteps of its predecessor, the album would be incomplete without the raga rock epic, “Canyon Collage”. It’s a sun-drenched journey of psych-folk picking, various percussion and drones, slowly building towards the powerful and fulfilling conclusion.
“The Dichotomy of Control” is the successful and logical progression from “The Discipline of Assent”. For this album, the studio can now be seen as a third instrument rather than adding a little extra texture or decoration. While it’s true that the extra planning and deliberating to incorporate this development has come at the cost of the spontaneity and originality, hence the charm of the debut, the gain is emotional depth and sonic complexity.