Describing music of great power and great expanse as “cinematic” can be fitting, if perhaps overused. When it comes to the music of Tokyo’s Sundays and Cybele, it’s incredibly appropriate.
“Sundays and Cybele” is the title of a 1962 French film directed by Serge Bourguignon, and the winner of an Oscar that year for “Best Foreign Language Film.” Conversely, “Heaven” is the title of the 2015 album from Sundays and Cybele, a Japanese band speaking the universal language of explosive, kaleidoscopic sound, for a result easily translated as both heavy and heavenly.
“Heaven” announces its intentions immediately; opening track “Black Rainbows” takes to the skies in an initially unhinged manner, sounding as much like an ending as a beginning, before a gate-crashing bass line drops us firmly into the overdriven world of Sundays and Cybele. If you’ve ever yearned to hear an Orange amp threaten to explode in a transcendent array of colors, “Heaven” is the album for you. “Almost Heaven” follows, providing evidence that Sundays and Cybele seem always to be reaching for peak experience, here demonstrated by a lead guitar break that seems to merge the differences between Ash Ra Tempel and The Dead Boys into a single, illuminating whole.
Since 2004, Sundays and Cybele has functioned as essentially the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Kazuo Tsubouchi. On “Heaven,” Tsubouchi’s reach seems to aim even higher than ever before. At just over eight minutes, “Night Predator” is the longest song on the album, one that begins with a jaunty, upbeat melody that would seem to slightly betray the song’s title. Yet there’s something in the brittle, bruised stabs of guitar that punctuate the song that makes it clear the intent here is to draw blood – or at least bare its teeth. The same could be said of following track “Empty Seas” or, indeed, of the full album “Heaven” in and of itself. Sundays and Cybele possess a preternatural ability to infuse the straightforward with a strong shot of weirdness, which in turn allows their weirder moments to feel incredibly straightforward and easily translated.
“Hinagiku” and “Time Mirror” end the album on what, out of context, could easily be heard as a melancholy note. Given the extraordinary fuzz pedal abuse of the album’s previous twenty-six minutes, however, these two songs sound like Sundays and Cybele having reached their unreachable goal of “Heaven,” before floating away on another boundless, burning excursion. Heaven only knows where they’ll take us next. – Ryan Muldoon, revoltoftheapes.com