Apr 7th, 2023
Danish band Sunbörn opens a new chapter with self-titled album
Formerly known as The KutiMangoes, Danish instrumental six-piece outfit Sunbörn presents the first album under its new name, the self-titled Sunbörn, with 8 stunning tracks of jazzy, afro-tinged, world music soundscapes.
As human beings, we are all born under the same sun and are connected by the same forces of nature. We may come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, but at our core, we are all the same. And in times when the world is tearing itself apart it is clear that music can stitch us back together again. Music has the power to bring us together in a shared experience, crossing boundaries and bridging gaps. No matter who we are or where we come from, music has the power to connect us and remind us of the common thread that runs through all of humanity. Meeting the world and connecting through music has been a vital mission for Sunbörn since day one, and with this new album they mark the beginning of a new adventure to connect people and sounds.
Album opener “Dancing In The Dusk” is a celebration of the excitement that comes with change and new developments. It represents a big turning point for the band a it was the first track to be released under the band’s new name of Sunbörn. There’s a hint of the contemplation and melancholy of leaving something behind but also the uplifting anticipation of something new about to happen. For this song the band challenged itself by exploring new colours in instrumentation, arrangement and production with lots of flutes, a larger orchestral sound, driving trombones, broken saxophone and a trancy beat that gives a subdued tinge of club music. In terms of inspiration the song borrows from electronic music, legendary jazz composer Gil Evans, tribal beats and Bon Iver’s production that melds acoustic and electronic sounds.
“Night Sweats“ was the third single, and while usually, the band’s horn melodies develop during the songs, keeping the groove steady, this time they wanted to turn things upside down. So while the horn riff stubbornly stays the same like a synth riff in an EDM track, everything around it shifts and develops. Rhythmic variations, polyrhythms and a wealth of guitar and synth parts add complexity and intensity until the track explodes in an irresistible disco feeling.
The album continues with “Metropolis”, a cover of Kraftwerk‘s song that was a tribute to Fritz Lang’s classic film. Strong melodies really lend themselves to an acoustic rendition, so it made sense for Sunbörn to do an interpretation of it. Acoustic instruments give the song a more human feel while the electronic elements provide a cool, machine-like contrast, creating a dynamic sound that explores the meeting of warm and cold, human and machine. The arrangement continues the band’s tradition of deep saxophones and trombones vibing on a hot, funky rhythm section, this time with synthesizer arpeggios taking centre stage. After a collage of improvisations on the main riffs, they launch an instrumental tapestry of screaming horns (with a nod to jazz legend Charles Mingus), stabs and soaring synths for a fresh perspective.
“Apple Blossom” is a song that captures the innocence and gentleness of spring, when the world wakes up from the barrenness of winter. The melodies are simple and transparent with a hint of melancholy and create a delicate and bittersweet sound, while the gentle, flowing rhythms evoke the awakening of nature and the renewal of life. Earthy drums, soft synth sounds, airy saxophones and gentle ukulele create the sonic fabric of a peaceful and contemplative track that celebrates the beauty and wonder of the spring season.
“Under The Same Sky” opens with a lush and inviting soundscape and eases into the groove with intricate interlocking riffs and motifs. As the song progresses, the instrumentation becomes increasingly dynamic and a synthesized trombone solo builds to a rousing outro with an uplifting gospel-inspired horn section. The title refers to the common human condition – we all live under the same sun and are connected by the same forces of nature – and finding hope in our connection and unity.
Remember the sunny summer days when the wind catches your beach ball and you chase after it up and down the dunes? “Beach Chase” is a track with a sunkissed feel that dwells on enjoying life’s easy moments, and this is reflected in the laid-back, carefree vibe of the track. The trombone-led melody adds a warm, rich sound, while a melodic moog-bass adds a counterpoint to the slowly developing melody. The percussion and flutes provides lively, energetic accents and the overall vibe is both relaxing and upbeat. Whether you’re actually at the beach or just dreaming of a sunny day, thing song will put a smile on your face and create a moment of easy living. Brazilian guitar virtuoso Caio Marcio provides a riveting acoustic guitar solo.
“Mankind?“ is a powerful and energetic instrumental song full of deep horns and wild grooves. The song captures the duality of human nature, with its ability to be both kind and gentle, but also destructive and violent. The intense horns and driving beats represent the chaos and intensity of human behavior, while the underlying groove showcases our capacity for unity and harmony. The song is a reminder of the incredible power of humanity, for better or for worse and its title signifies questioning what mankind really is as well as what we are doing to each other and the planet. It features Ida Nielsen from Denmark, who spent 6 years as part of Prince’s New Power Generation, who lays the foundation with a delicately funky bass part. While BIGYUKI (aka Masayuki Hirano) from Japan soars with a rousing and potent keyboard solo. Hirano is a virtuoso keyboard player based in New York City and a highly sought-after collaborator of Kamasi Washington, A Tribe Called Quest and Lauryn Hill, among others.
Closing off the album is “Echoes”, in which meditative, pulsating guitar arpeggios provide the backdrop for a deceptively simple melody that might as well have come from a singer/songwriter. As instrumentalists Sunbörn very much think of themselves as storytellers through melodies, and this song is no exception. The title represents reflections on life – perhaps looking at yourself in new ways, looking back on where life has taken you and how you got there. The production of the song was inspired by sounds of the 80s – lots of chorus, echos & big, bold synthesizers – artists like The Police, Pink Floyd and Bladerunner soundtrack composer Vangelis. The song breaks wide open in the b-part: with an abrupt key change, all movement is brought to a halt and mighty keyboard sounds are introduced as two alto saxophones wail in unison. The song captures both the intimate and the expansive and is a tribute to the rich complexity of the human experience and the way it shapes our identity.
Sunbörn‘s name change is a direct result of their desire to push into new directions and conquer the world music scene – all over the world – for real. Their self-titled debut seems poised to do just that!
‘Sunbörn’ out on CD / Digital on April 7th 2023 and LP TBA via Tramp Records