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Sundown (review)
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jducoeur
[Oh, right -- posted this to Facebook last week, but forgot to mention it here...]

OMG -- when I wasn't looking, Sundown came out! Time for a burble.

I first encountered Sassafrass a few years ago at Arisia, and was blown away. Unlike the usual filk, they perform the music of Ada Palmer: complex harmonized a capella with far more depth than you'll usually encounter.

And I heard several tracks from their then-upcoming album, Sundown, which apparently came out sometime last year. Sundown is unlike anything else you'll ever find: the core Norse myths retold as an intricate a capella opera. I've been waiting for the full album ever since, and it's brilliant. (For those who have heard Sassafrass' previous albums: this one's different. Studio-quality, with proper mixing and everyone really practiced. This is what the music *should* sound like, and which the previous, mostly-live albums could only aspire to.)

I love the whole album, but particular standouts include:
  • "My Brother, My Enemy" (a bitter duet for Odin and Loki)

  • "Hearthfire" (beautiful and heartbreaking)

  • "Ice and Fire" (a duet for dueling Eddas, the entire history of the universe in 11 minutes -- this one is hilarious live, with Powerpoint presentation in the background)

  • "The Futhark Song" (essentially the traditional alphabet song, for Futhark)
Highly recommended in general, especially to SCAdians. The music can be challenging, and won't be to all tastes, but I recommend listening to a few of the above at the website to see if you are into it.

Also notable is the album Make Them All Real, which is a bunch of their other songs, remastered from their rough earlier albums. It's not quite as polished as Sundown, but includes "Somebody Will", which I generally think of as *the* anthem of classic science fiction -- a beautiful, melancholy song of the patience required to build the future. And several other lovely songs, including the period Ideo Gloria: it's also well worth getting.

Check it out, and spread the word...
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I'm pleased and proud to have been part of the Sundown and Stories & Stone Kickstarter backer communities, and fortunate to have had a chance to see their Sundown performance at LoneStarCon 3.

(How amazing are they? I've seen a performance of "My Brother, My Enemy" leave a normally very eloquent acquaintance unable to respond with anything more than "Holy shit".)

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