Saturna are a space-rock trio from Portland, Oregon. Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest or have made the pilgrimage to the Shoegazer’s Ball it is unlikely you have had a chance to see or hear them. All Night, their new EP, is an accomplished record that portents to wider exposure for this promising band. Fans of their first release, the Gamma Ray Afterglow single, will find this new release to have been well worth the wait.
The song-building is remarkably sure as they patiently wait to pull all the stops out till they’ve got you right where they want you. The first song, Springboard, features understated, dissonant coils of space guitar effects and reverb laden vocal harmonies that would make Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser proud. If Ride and Slowdive got together to make a record it would sound something pleasantly like this. Hazy, gauzy, atmospheric, or as Spiritualized® once said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.”
The balance of lush harmonies, ambient interludes, straight up rockers and subtle washes and waves of guitar noise is just right, reflecting an uncanny musical intelligence and discipline. Even the vocals, as good as they are, are not allowed to dominate at any point. Instead the vocals are an equal part, with the other instruments, of the ensemble, creating an organic fabric of sound that is somehow both constant and varied.
The arrangements are intelligently and intricately done, demonstrating the impressive range of skills this band possesses. On All Night this band shows the ability to do many things well, from creating evocative moods and atmospheres in their soundscapes to vocal harmonies that are achingly beautiful. Their songs utilize effects and techniques of great shoegazer bands before them, (especially The Jesus and Mary Chain), but each track is their own, somehow both composed and spontaneous. Certainly Saturna are still in the process of discovering their identity and sound as any band at this early stage should be. But they’re off to a great start.
Saturna is, Steve Anderson, Ryan Carroll, and Eric Block. Call it shoegazer, call it dream pop, call it space-rock. These guys know exactly what they’re doing on this record. The result is five tracks that take you to bliss-rock planet Saturna and you’ll want to return there again and again.