New York avant outfit, Sunwatchers, conjure freewheeling soundscapes of psych-jazz, drone, and sax-punk that transport the listener to fantastical, far-out worlds of sonorous noise. According to Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer, their “dream machinery” can even “map out great pyramids and deep buried labyrinths.” However, on “Eusebius,” the newest track from the group’s forthcoming self-titled LP, the course charted is not one of whimsy or mystical exploration, but that of a complex psychological portrait, closer to home. A modern re-arrangement of 19th century composer Robert Schumann’s piece of the same name, the song elegizes its original composer and the free-jazz sax legend Arthur Doyle, both of whom suffered from mental illness but nonetheless propelled their craft into the next dimension. About the song, guitarist Jim McHugh tells SPIN:
We made the decision to arrange that piece in a free-jazz/Sunwatchers style directly because of our experience playing with Arthur Doyle, whose “Noah Black Ark” appears on our bonus flexi-disc in a similar floating SW arrangement. Both Schumann and Arthur were creative iconoclastic forces within their disciplines who suffered from mental anguish, mental illness and alienation due to their convictions. Having collaborated with Arthur — hearing and seeing firsthand of his struggles, and participating in his creative forcefulness — we really related to Schumann’s story as it connects to his intensely varied work. “Eusebius” is from his peaceful side, as “Noah Black Ark” seems to be from AD’s sanctified gospel background. Jeff Tobias had been studying classical music, and had the brilliant idea to arrange “Eusebius” for rubato, spiritual jazz-playing, partially to illuminate that those sorts of elegant and melodic progressions — mostly identified with the blues idiom — did not begin in the 20th century with Gershwin, et al. As we nailed down the arrangement, we had Arthur on our mind; the fearless pioneer would dig it, I think.”
Listen to the song below, and check out Sunwatchers when it comes out March 11 via Castle Face Records.