Staring at the title “Hold/Still” has me going crazy.
How did I completely gloss over it upon my first listens? I have now spent the better part of an hour obsessing over those two words interrupted by a slash (or solidus/virgule as Wikipedia tells me).
- The solidus can connect contrasting alternatives. “Y/N” for yes or no, but not both.
- The solidus can connect similar items by acting as an “and” or inclusive “or”. “MasterCard/Visa/Debit accepted” meaning you can use any and all methods of payment.
- The solidus is also a method of taking a verbal left turn or follow-up as you mention, “…a wonderful jog slash we should really jog to that café by the hill.”
- The solidus can be used as a line break in poetry or lyrics
By introducing this slash into the common phrase “hold still,” Suuns has put a spotlight on the two words and their relationship between each other. Do these words belong in formal opposition to each other? Are they similar? Completely unrelated? Decorative? If nothing else, the package causes me to think, while subconsciously feel a little anxious.
“Hold/Still” greets you with the dissonant/disjunct motives of “Fall” i.e. this music is likely to get noise complaints from your upstairs neighbour as it slowly marches towards a sludgy, ring-modded end with an apparent disinterest in relaxing sounds. “Instrument” follows, cooly oscillating forward with dissonant melodic punctuation barely affecting the hypnotizing groove.
Are the two tracks connected? Opposites? Nothing but a line break?
The atmosphere is palpable and in stark contrast to the previous track, yet it still has very similar ingredients.
Then there are tracks like “Brainwash”. Hazy, beachy guitars strum in time with a melody that sounds like it is ambling along with the vocalists thoughts. It’s lazy and beautiful, until it gets torn apart by the ugliest kick/snare combo put on record. But the beach guitar melody continues on as if it doesn’t really notice/care. It’s jarring and made me verbally ask “what is this?” the first time I heard it. The parts coordinate while contradicting each other.
“Hold/Still” is wholly uncomfortable and entirely gripping. Slashing guitar fighting droning bass/droning guitar fighting slashing bass. I’m still a little overwhelmed by everything, and I think Suuns is happy that is the case.
Catch Suuns at MoSoFest in Saskatoon with The Avulsions and Waitress while dancing towards the inevitable end of our time with this mortal coil.
- Jon Neher