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SUNWATCHERS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE DISPOSSESSED, IMPOVERISHED AND EMBATTLED PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
Albert Ayler — precious spiritual and sonic touchstone of ours to the degree that we named our band after one of his weirder totems — proclaimed it famously, affirmatively and with well-earned intelligence: MUSIC IS THE HEALING FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE. We believe this and preach this and do what we can to live this, but we understand that, now, amid our wrongheaded fascist tailspin, direct action is needed.
We are musicians, and we will leave political specifics to those more qualified than we are. All the time and energy and passion we can muster we dedicate to writing, performing, recording and releasing music: instrumental music, released from the tyranny of semantics into the freedom and hopefulness of universality-of-connection. We thusly realize the need to become overt about our own intentions and our own mores; without the ease and accessibility of direct language, the onus is on us to express our principles in other ways. This is the reason we have chosen for our album cover the beautiful embroidery of our long-held Sunwatchers Mission Statement, included in lesser visual terms in every SW release thus far. This stunning version was made by our dear friend Catherine Wheeler, a surprise end-of-tour gift created as she traveled across Africa by bus. We couldn’t be more proud of it as a totem, an art object, and an album cover; it is significant in a multitude of ways.
We have the unbelievable luck of playing with many amazing collaborators in NYC and beyond, but the core of our group — Peter Kerlin, Jim McHugh, Jason Robira and Jeff Tobias — are white males, American-born. It is an unassailable and deeply maddening fact that white males in this world are afforded a million times more bandwidth and infinitely more resources for communication and mobility than any other ethnic or gender group. Our comrades at Trouble In Mind did not choose to release our record because of this; but, as individuals, we have been emboldened since birth to speak out for what we desire, what we believe in, to express directly our goals. That others are discouraged, overtly and covertly, and are very often jailed, assaulted and murdered is a tragedy beyond measure. However, this is truth, and we view it as our responsibility to use our ill-gotten bully pulpit to espouse equality for the dispossessed and an end to our current exploitative ways of being. Unavoidably, this graphic iteration will be seen as seditious by the mainstream(if it is noticed at all; more punk-battered free-improv on FOX NEWS could start some sort of healing process, tho), and, perhaps, it will be judged as hypocritical by some of our peers in the underground music community — as a mere marketing-scheme, or empty sloganeering in the name of radical-chic. We promise you, it is as genuine as it can be. At our deepest core we desire that our efforts aid in the annihilation of state-supported inequality and the concept and importance of Whiteness altogether.
We are leftists; across the spectrum, yes — abolitionist syndicalist; democratic socialist; antiviolent-resistance advocate; horrified father with a sad eye for his child to the imperiled future — but leftists, all, and we feel that human existence is endangered by capitalism and its inexorably violent, exploitative and objectively harrowing means, methods and endgames. We have sensed this danger since well before the idiot fascistTrump and his confederacy of gangster anarcho-capitalists and racist-activists assumed control and unfurled their sloppy and lethal intent across the governance of the First World. We felt this before racist groups — paramilitary foot-soldiers of Capitalism, knowingly or unawares — were emboldened by our clown-mouthed president to make their violently bigoted intentionality overt and head-breaking as opposed to sublimated, coiled and altogether dominant, nonetheless. We understood this through years past, as our regime— under whatever equivocating leader our electorate supported — upheld foreign dictators and brigands that aided in our own government-for-profit-by-murder; as munitions corporations propagated endless and horrible war by keeping subservient lawmakers in power via their deep-pocketed lobbies; as police militarized their ranks with surplus weaponry and combat armor — justified ironically and nefariously as a “taxpayer money-saving plan” — and initiated assassinations of people of color and terrorized grassroots resistance movements. Capitalism is endangering humanity, and we must end it if we are to survive; this knowledge has devastated us and guided us for years.
Now, things are critical: sabres are rattling, millions of people are dying needlessly in the name of capital, and the injuries and injustices accrue too quickly to inventory. We are on the precipice of our precarious worldwide disaster merging into full-blown “you will not be counting the dead, you will be counting the living”* catastrophe.
As with our first album on Castle Face, we will be donating sales proceeds of this LP to prison abolitionist organizations. Money from the debut went to the Human Rights Coalition, a direct-advocacy group for inmates based in Philadelphia. This summer past, via our activist-umbrella organization Music Against Mass Incarceration, we organized a day-long festival benefitting JustLeadershipUSA and the Close Rikers Campaign; their input and participation was cogent and inspired, their expertise immensely valuable, and the day was edifying and strengthening for our community of progressives here in Brooklyn. Donations from this LP will go to JLUSA, as well. Again: it is on us to increase our Money/Mouth Ratio in these dire times.
Enough of this. We hope you dig the sounds; we worked really hard on them. It also needs to be said that we nearly named this record “LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!!!” because, yeh, we like that too. But, as our radical scuzz-punk forbears No Trend once declared in seething voices indignant, drug-strangled and wholly pubescent: IF YOU STAND FOR NOTHING YOU’LL FALL FOR ANYTHING!
LOVE AND RESPECT — JMM, JDT, JLR, PNK
*A chilling, characteristic quote to embattled Sarajevens by Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic, proclaimed at the upswing of the Milosevic-led ethnic cleansing of the former Yugoslavia. There are many more details about these atrocities that ring true today, which is absolutely horrifying, to say the least.
released February 2, 2018
Peter Kerlin - bass guitar
Jim McHugh - electric & acoustic guitars, electric phin, keyboards, harmonica, Korg MS-20
Jeff Tobias - alto & baritone saxophones, Wurlitzer MLM, keyboards, recorder
Jason Robira - drumset & percussion
Ryan Sawyer - second drumset on "The Hot Eye" & "Flowers of the Water"
Brigid Dawson - vocals on "Flowers of the Water"
Jonah Rapino - violin
Jeanann Dara - viola
Cory Bracken - vibraphone
Michael Wrasman - trombone
Recorded by Charles Burst at The Seaside Lounge - Brooklyn, NY, Aug 2016
Mastered by Sarah Register
Overdubs engineered in the homes of Peter Kerlin, Jonah Rapino & Jason Robira
Mixed by Charles Burst & Sunwatchers
Sunwatchers mission embroidered by Catherine Wheeler
Lettering, logo & layout by Chelsey Pettyjohn
Cover design by Peter Kerlin & Jim McHugh
I went back to the early nineties and replaced every single CD in every single Sam Goody store with a CDR of this record. I'm not going to lie to you, it took some time. And I'm not even sure the CDRs will work in those busted old boomboxes. But if the CDRs do work, oh man. Watch your back. Karl Ward
Some of the most liberating music to come out during this oppressive year... thank you Horse Lords for freeing my mind and limbs. Probably tied for my AOTY along with Anna Von Hausswolf’s new record Benjamin Jelinek