Personnel: John Ceparano (guitar, synthesizer, drums).
Ex-Soundpool brain trust Kim Field and John "Cep" Ceparano return with Door to the Sun, their second offering under the Stargazer Lilies banner. As first heard on 2013's We Are the Dreamers, their particular brand of shoegaze is as murky as a bog filled with expired psychedelics. If anything, the rays of kaleidoscopic sun that shone through the emptier spaces of their debut are fewer and farther between on their follow-up. With Los Angeles-based drummer Tammy Hirata now onboard, the sound they deliver is massive, extremely dense, and frequently difficult. Slowly exhaling its hot breath is opener "Golden Key," one of the album's more structured and accessible tracks. Ceparano's lonesome squalls of ambient guitar tone wail like a wayward wind as Field's airy and mostly unintelligible voice dances across the top like a tumbleweed. Comprised of eight fairly lengthy tracks, Door to the Sun is a highly cerebral set where tumult and anxiety share quarters with -- and usually dominate -- their cousin radiance. "Drive" feels like a four-minute slow-motion car wreck where shards of harmonic beauty spill out of its shattered windows. A heavy layer of menace rolls like tank treads underneath the oddly sweet vocal melodies of "When with You" suggesting hidden powers and motives. "Personal Autumn" -- whose title seems like it must have been generated by a dream pop/shoegaze song algorithm -- contains some distant verses mostly blanketed by a harsh pastiche of what could be heavily-treated leaf blowers and rotting Hal Blaine drum patterns. Aside from the underlying impression of threat that seems to pervade nearly every song, Door to the Sun plays out like a fairly standard, if exceedingly heavy shoegaze album. Hearing or understanding the Lilies' lyrics is out of the question, as is any real semblance of standard pop structure, but in the parlance of one of rock's vaguer subgenres, it seems like they've succeeded. ~ Timothy Monger