Album Review: Sunwatchers – 'Illegal Moves'


Sunwatchers indulge in a noise jazz musical free-for-all in their latest album ‘Illegal Moves’.

Sunwatchers are a very talented band. They are virtuosi of their instruments and have created a body of intense instrumental compositions of pure noise. If you enjoy the weirdness of Captain Beefheart and The Mothers of Invention combined with the fuzzy-guitar-meets-saxophone punk jazz of The Stooges Fun House record, there’s a good chance you’ll like this.

One of the main features of Illegal Moves is scratchy wah-laden guitars, and this begins from the first track ‘New Dad Blues’. It’s chaotic and not easy listening, but you can’t help but admire Sunwatchers’ boldness. It’s extremely jazzy, and this is another feature that continues through the album – they improvise and jam but always return to a motif or melody that holds the song together. It’s impressive. Plus, the saxophone lines that are reminiscent of ‘Dumb Waiters’ by the Psychedelic Furs. ‘Beautiful Crystals’ has a more atmospheric opening with a drone throughout. The solo is a cool delay-soaked fuzz of noise and the synths a bit sci-fi. ‘Greeneyed Pigmen (Get the Blade)’ contains a guitar melody at around the 1:50 mark that is melancholic and dirty – like Hendrix. As usual, the band opt for a mad outro of noise!

However, not all the tracks are built upon layers of noise and chaos. ‘Ptah, The El Daoud’ sounds like a psychedelic spaghetti western, as if Sergio Leone wrote and directed a cowboy film set on Mars. The western vibe continues with bluesy slide guitar in the album closer ‘Strollin’ Coma Blues’. Funnily enough, it’s the only track on Illegal Moves not to feature any wah. The slide work is accompanied by primitive drums that sound like a Native American ritual and sexy jazz saxophone lines. ‘Strollin’ Coma Blues’ is not dissimilar to Led Zeppelin’s ‘In My Time of Dying’, as the song morphs into a fas- paced madness that only Sunwatchers are capable of. 

2019 is already shaping up to be a great year for guitar music. But where Sunwatchers differ and what they offer is experimentation without vocal political statements. If you love guitar, but struggle with jazz, check Illegal Moves out.

Words by Matthew Brocklehurst