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Cult Stoner Rockers Sun Dial Return

March 6, 2010 by  

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Cult Stoner Rockers Sun Dial Return

Cult psychedelic/stoner rock band Sun Dial celebrate their 20th anniversary by returning from the wilderness with a brand new self-titled studio album, released April 26th. Back in the early 1990s, Sun Dial were a critics’ favourite, the perfect assemblage of grunge, shoegazing and moody late 60s psychedelia. After a lengthy sabbatical, they’re back with an album that effortlessly straddles stoner rock, grunge and even metal in places.

Founded by Gary Ramon, Sun Dial carved out a niche with an uncompromising zeal and their own unique imprint. Now with long-term collaborator (and ex-Chapterhouse bassist) Russell Barrett on board, they have returned with a brand new studio album (their first since 2003’s Zen For Sale), their own label Shrunken Head (under the umbrella of Cherry Red) and a career-spanning 20th anniversary anthology, Processed For DNA, which has already received praise in the music press in magazines such as The Sunday Times and Record Collector.

This self-titled new album is darker, heavier and with a relentless focus brought about by personal adversity and the determination to show the band’s musical talent with no tricks/studio gimmicks. This hardcore approach has led them to what they believe to be their best and most essential release.

After being signed to Beggars Banquet (and Atlantic in the States) in the mid-1990s, Sun Dial threatened to be a traditional band, flying round the world on an album-tour-album treadmill. That brief flirtation with mainstream success had followed widespread critical acclaim for debut album Other Way Out, recorded on a shoestring budget and an improvised set-up. Issued in 1990, Other Way Out was a mixture of late Sixties psychedelia (think early Pink Floyd), the raw power of The Stooges and seventies punk rock. The album attracted rave reviews, prompting Ramon to develop Sun Dial as a live band while hardening and tightening their sound. After some scotched sessions (which were belatedly issued in 1994 as Return Journey), second album Reflecter was issued in 1992. It fared well in the Indie charts, leading to the Beggars Banquet/Atlantic deal. That relationship fathered two excellent albums. Libertine (1993) mixed elements of grunge and an echo of the contemporary shoegazing sound with Sun Dial’s own psychedelic rock sensibilities. 1995’s Acid Yantra was a heavier departure, foreshadowing the present ‘stoner’ rock scene.

By 1997, however, Sun Dial had fragmented in the wake of band/management/label woes and Ramon retreated to run his mail-order labels Prescription and Acme, pursuing a Krautrock side project with Quad. In 2003, Sun Dial made a triumphant return with the heavily psychedelic/pop overtones of Zen For Sale. Now they unleash what is without doubt their heaviest and strongest offering to date with blistering guitars and a brutal production.

Sun Dial are intimately involved with the new packages. “Without doubt, they’ll be the definitive versions,” claims Russ, “with Gary overseeing the mixes/masters. Shrunken Head is a godsend as Sun Dial have suffered repeatedly from misinformation in their long history.” Gary agrees: “We’ve been in existence for twenty years,” he says. “It’s a good point for the anthology but it’s also re-focusing on what Sun Dial was/is about. Hopefully, all the fans’ favourite tracks are included from every period plus unissued tracks/mixes, including a few from the unreleased The Book Of Kohoutek (deemed too dangerous for release) and ‘Storm Coming’ (which kicks off the new album).”

“We’re both very reclusive now,” admits Russ, “and have developed a mistrust of most people as well as a dose of dark humour due to our sometimes ridiculous circumstances.” Add to that Aleister Crowley, occult magic, Hanna Barbera and old horror films and you get the strange melting pot that is Sun Dial.



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