Sunflower – Plain Sight
11.28.22 by Matty McPherson
There’s a singular quandary that every plunderphonic-edged beat tape has had to consider for a quarter century: just what does your soul look like? The beat tape is a soul searching endeavor, a maneuvering that can become a personal exploration of pleasure and philosophy. Truth is, they’ll rarely warrant the cross examination; a DJ is of a moment and capturing the mix to digital files or ferric HAVE to be insistent, sleek achievements. Is that what the Australian plunderphonic only known as Sunflower brings to the sound system with Plain Sight? It came out back in summer on the well-inclined Third Kind Records, a UK label that always has keen ear for globe spanning electronic in tantalizing packages.
Well more or less, Plain Sight eschews a dogged-street wisdom with a cunning sardonic wit. It features kicked out breakbeats, soulful horns and harmonica, amongst a litany of pop winks and nods (most notably, Lean Cuisine-frozen meal aisle radio staple, the drum fill of Toto’s Africa); it all oozes to asticky fondue perfection that’s brevity also begets replayability. Sunflower’s tracks are short microcasts–boogieable blips that literally aim straight for the jugular in pathos and insight. The way each track’s hot runtime and odyssey of sounds give it that feeling of old film prints of trailers striking a silver screen. Pulped out all the way through and a genuine fried out delight for bopping and grooving. So little music this year has been reveled as such.
Whether or not that aim was achieved through a crack commando of blunt-laden psychedelic and at times, vaporous beats, or samplicious vocal quips changed on a dime each listen I gave it; truly a tape that keeps on giving in the realizations each sample will give. What is clear though, is that Sunflower is probably the most dogged and righteously pissed plunderphonic since Nevativland burst on the scene with album art that featured guns taken to exorbitant levels. The tape’s samples and swagger has a running motif of gun violence, war on drugs, and American iconoclasm; all critiqued in various contexts functioning as an unabashed agit-pop statement. For its 17-ish minute runtime, that’s smokin’.
It’s no jam-con, nor a pre-emptive strike. Yet, Sunflower’s resilience and begging of this question feels less of an armchair argument. More a blunt attempt to expose fatal error (and reignite the shock of it!) found within a broken system. If a beat tape can be a soul search, then this is akin to a mirror exposing a cultural soul gone jive if not outright blank. One thing is assured that it grows more hollow practically each day as unfortunate exercises in Second Amendment freedoms land in break rooms, school campuses, community spaces, or wherever in this bloody country. A cyclical cycle. Perhaps one the tape knows well enough to have the full run pressed to the a-side and its backing.