Forever promoting belief in the transcendence of time and space, Golden Dawn Arkestra continues to experiment with a myriad of musical styles & genres, all the while remaining true to their expansive cinematic sound. Since the advent of the digital age and streaming services, most of us listen to musical genres in totally random sequences, and yet bands have come to cling even more to their given genre. Not so with Golden Dawn Arkestra. Children of the Sun (Nine Mile Records) takes listeners on a world tour from Brazil to Berlin, sweeping past Punk & Psych Rock, plunging into Disco & Soul, all the while romancing the World Beat. The Arkestra returned to their favorite recording studio perched on the cliffs of the Colorado River for this album and once again employed Erik Wofford (The Black Angels, Explosions in the Sky, my morning Jacket) to engineer and produce. Erik’s sense of space echoes and reverberation being such a beautiful fit.
It’s also just a powerful work of gentle psychedelia, and a notable sonic departure from the heavy, pulse-raising sound that Maas has become renowned for. For more than 15 years, The Black Angels have served as one of rock’s preeminent purveyors of blissful walls of fuzz and intensity. They’ve also served as ringleaders of a larger psych-rock scene, particularly through their Levitation music festival, which inspires a pilgrimage of kindred spirits from around the world to the Austin area year after year. But Luca scratches a new itch for Maas.
“It’s a whole different part of my brain,” Maas says of the album, which finds him putting aside his Jesus and Mary Chain LPs and instead of looking for inspiration in acts varying from The Everly Brothers to Portishead. Opener “Slip Into” delivers extraterrestrial themes over a funky beat and an eerie synth line, while “American Conquest” is a trance-inducing journey that focuses on issues much closer to home, like the horrific shootings ravaging the country in recent years. “The City” is a woozy campfire song reckoning with the larger cycle of human violence, and “Been Struggling” is a dreamy waltz that takes a winking look at memory and fate. Songs like “Special” and “500 Dreams” are lullabies for Luca inspired by thoughts about all of this and more.
“I wanted to go someplace musically that I’ve never gone before,” Maas considers. “Wu-Tang meets Leonard Cohen.”