Sauna Youth – Dreamlands LP launch & exhibition
‘Sorry, we are not serving any alcohol tonight,’ was the first of many surprises at Protein Gallery in Shoreditch last night, the sterile setting chosen by art-punk quartet Sauna Youth to launch their upcoming album Dreamlands. Gringo Records and Faux Disc announce the record is available on 180g black vinyl with a 12-page risograph print insert and digital download, and is available to order from the Gringo Records shop now, and will be available in all good record shops on the 3rd September.
Cold Puma‘s drummer and lead vocalist Patrick Fisher summed up what would be a bizarre but enjoyable evening wonderfully when he said, ‘remember, this isn’t a show, it’s a space.’
The atmosphere was unwelcoming and awkward, which we suspect was the desired effect. After all, this was an art gallery, not a music venue. From the first instance it was plain to see Sauna Youth and their supports, Cold Pumas, take their art very seriously. The pokey little room would have been perfect for a sweaty punk gig – except it wasn’t, instead the smell of industrial cleaner and the blindingly white walls were more like a backdrop, and perfect setting for an installation.
The constraints of time seemed to be a running theme throughout the night. The bands were definitely successful in inducing a catatonic-like state in their audience – they created and trapped time, with 2-10 second projections of individuals stuck in a warp put on loop, and short videos of banal everyday situations played continually.
The gallery itself was very minimalistic and sanitary, it was as though Sauna Youth were intent on antagonising the association between punk and grime, trying to achieve ‘anti-everything’ – which essentially is what punk was originally about, wasn’t it? They were out to play some very irregular garage/punk rock, in a forced and subversive atmosphere.
On their website Sauna Youth themselves describe their creative process as arduous, a “stuttering, slow wade through the creative mire” which didn’t fill us with anticipation, but we were thrilled to hear that Dreamlands sounded clean, sharp, and more melodic than their previous releases. There was a sense of purpose and progression to the album (which they played in full) and whilst they have definitely toned it down, something about the atmosphere now made more sense – it appeared that every aspect of the music was meaningfully put together to create the desired feeling of disassociation with everyday life.
Dreamlands moves away from the typically chaotic punk delivery of music. Singer Richard Phoenix has taken over on the drums, and his playing is sharp and accurate. Sauna Youth now also have melodic backing vocals, by newest member and keyboarder Jen Calleja. The set opened with a ten minute short-fiction monologue, read over a fast pace garage beat. This is also the opening track on Dreamlands.
Along with their use of short fiction, another invariable in their music is Lindsay Corstorphine’s guitar work that has a hardcore, metal influence. All in all, it’s fair to say Sauna Youth know their way around their instruments, and how to confuse the boundaries between art and punk, nearing the end of the set they suggested that the audience shouldn’t be treating the space like an art gallery, after which chaotic dancing ensued! So which is it, gallery or gig? It was an interesting evening and unique launch for what ought to be a hotly anticipated album.
On the Gringo Records website it’s noted that their artistic infinites are pledged to Pissed Jeans, Eddy Current, Suppression ring and The Intelligence.
Dreamlands is available for purchase now at Gringo Records