“Numün is a trio of New York City soundscape designers who combine a wide range of music and visual influences to create hypnotic aural and visual experiences. The band members include “ambient country” pioneer Bob Holmes (from SUSS) as well as new music composer and artist, Joel Mellin, and percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Romero (both from Gamelan Dharma Swara). Their influences range from sonic artists like Brian Eno and Morton Subotnick, to the environmental visual artists Olafur Eliason and Elias Romero, to Balinese composer I Nyoman Windha and shadow puppet master I Wayan Wija. As individual artists, their work has been seen and heard at MOMA, The Met, Basilica Hudson, The Bali Arts Festival, NPR, New Sounds, Echoes, and has been featured in Mojo, Wire, Pitchfork and Aquarium Drunkard.”
Numün are not the kind of trio that you can slap a descriptor on that fits ever so nicely. There is a fusion that goes on within their music that can include anything from Electronic, Post Rock, Americana, Ethnographic, Prog Rock, Ambient and anything in between. Originally convening in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Moon landing, the trio first debuted with the track “Tranquillity Base” on the “The Moon and Back – One Small Step for Global Pop” released on London-based WIAIWYA label that same year (with the track also included on this album). The trio then expanded on this auspicious beginning while keeping with the same theme of their beginning , by creating “Voyage Au Soleil (aka Voyage To The Sun”) a six track, thirty eight minute release to create pieces that have a strong cinematic vibe with equal amonuts of experimentation and an almost pop sensibility.
“Tranquillity Base” ends up being a fairly representative slice of fragments that you can expect to experience throughout the album. The trio alongside violinist Trina Basu of Brooklyn Raga Massive absorb so many styles and blend them into one that is as much a travelogue or dialogue led soundscape as it is a slice of post rock influenced Psych pop. The noticeable quality of the album is that each track rather than sounding like a carbon copy of each other, each piece compliments each other. The trio clearly have an understanding when it comes to compositions. Holmes has been active for close to forty years, while Romero has almost thirty years and Mellin has over a decade of work behind him. Between the three of them, they are able to weave a sonic fabric which sounds on the surface rather conventional, but on deeper listening (it it any surprise the genre descriptor that came with this album is Deep Listening) reveals all the little extras that make the music so rich.
A highlight of the album is the way that the exotic instrumentation which includes bass, guitar, harpsichord, synths, violin static, piano, organ, guitar, gongs, gender wayang, theremin, bass, synths, assorted percussion, dholak, cümbüş and violin is able find room nicely combine rather than feeling thrown together. The main instruments tend to be the more percussive ones such as Gender Wayang, Dholak and Gongs as well as the 52 Gibson Hollowbody. It is these two groups of sounds which lead the direction of the pieces as well as the colour , light and shade. It is hard to pick a particular favourite piece as for the most part they are all of a similar quality, but the title track stands out for me probably because there is this consistent movement that is at the core of it as the trio see, intent on taking us on this somewhat epic journey.
“Voyage Au Soleil” is the kind of release that may take a few passes to worm it’s way into your consciousness, but when it does it will provide and enjoyable multifaceted listen and is well worth checking out. “Voyage Au Soliel” is a Digital only release and is available now via Musique Impossible.