From the opening moments of Walk Onto Sun’s self-titled debut album, a mesmerizing bleakness settles itself over the dizzying soundscapes found within. As the solo project from L.A. musician Ben Engebretson, Walk Onto Sun is no stranger to using its dark-cold wave sonics to cut into the political and social landscape of today, with their first EP tackling themes of alienation and the degradation of the middle class amongst its visceral, industrial-ambient electronica.
Walk onto Sun fleshes out those anxieties into a collection of tracks upon which Engebretson heaves the heavy burdens of our time. Album opener “Tension City” delivers those pressures in an almost suffocating manner, pummeled as the song’s melody is by a mix of droning electronics and accelerating percussion antics–while at its center Engebretson wails along in that low lull of his. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that uses the rest of its six tracks to unravel the harsh and aching world it seeks to give voice to.
Even for those woefully unfamiliar with the esoteric mix of genres and sounds that collide on the album, Walk onto Sun taps something primal in its purposefully melodic noise. Whatever chaos or wall of sound electronica that’s delivered, as in “Take the Statue Down,” or even in its generous use of space that transforms its more minimalist pieces into post-punk ballads of subdued electronics, like with “Feral Plains,” the album is noticeably singular in its breadth.
Hypnotic in its switch-footing between rabid punk noise and euthanizing etherealness, Walk onto Sun never loses itself in the heady rhythms it bathes listeners in. “Cast in Pale” finds a perfect balance between the album’s chaotic sonic musings, droning with Engebretson’s melancholy and a lush backing of electronic hums and ebbing, virulent guitar riffs.
Even the album’s more atmospheric pieces like “Medicate” and “Grow Static” never feel overdone or trite, but rather hold up the same emotionally intensive clarity and tension as driving rock pieces like “Empty Vessel.” With “Medicate” being such a standout track, the album also includes two reimaginations created by LA-based producer / DJ Spheric.
Walk Onto Sun is an album that, even in its egregious sonics and chaotic wrangling of despair, is as poignantly succinct as it is bold. Walk onto Sun churns away like this black-hole of darkwave melancholia, allowing nothing to escape its oddly euphoric hold–not that you’d ever want to.
The world bleakly painted on Walk onto Sun might not just be a caricature of our own, but rather a living, breathing manifestation of the anxieties and soul-aching that hums within it all. And there’s something blissful, however dripping with dread, that comes with that acknowledgment–and Walk onto Sun might be one of the few attempts to capture such dirges tempered with such beauty.
Words: Steven Ward