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Sunbeam Sound Machine – ‘Wandering, I’

– by Maggie Bochat

I remember the feeling I got the first time I watched Morning of the Earth. The red, fuzzy carpet under my toes, expanding and shifting as my mind invited the new way of thinking. If you haven’t yet seen it, it contains hypnotic visuals, a guitar riff that grabs you, and seamlessly invokes nostalgia for a time and place most of us were never in. I felt it again watching ‘Wandering, I,’ the latest video off Sunbeam Sound Machine’s EP Wonderer. The clip opens in a fairy floss coloured, VHS fuzz. Sunbeam Sound Machine are about to take me on a pop journey.

The electric strums whisk me away, back to the old school. Twenty seconds in and the drums have begun – I want to get up and dance. Volume increasing. I feel like I am in a wave.

Director Hamish Mitchell calls the clip “a psychedelic, washed-out palette paired with rawer, harder VHS voyeuristic footage.” The creation was an “experiment of degrading and processing the analogue signal of the footage…with the computer merely being used to piece it together.”

Is the experiment successful? It depends on what the band was trying to achieve. Man behind the music Nick Sowersby said, “the song is about uncertainty and self-doubt. The production was meant to capture that feeling, and I think Hamish’s clip does an excellent job too.”

The uncertain feeling is captured, but it gets frustrating. I find myself searching, searching, searching for a visual to hold onto. Is that a guitar? Nick Sowersby’s mouth? A small dog? Kangaroo head? (see 2:21) Maybe that’s what makes it so dreamy – a lack of clear detail. Through this absence of clarity, the sound becomes the focus. The repetition of visuals highlights repetition in the song. The effects are cool, but borderline on “too much”, like that one friend who always over edits their Insta photos.

It’s good to have reality blurred for a moment: to be whisked away to a different era where colours change as the sounds change and not everything makes sense.

 ‘Wandering, I’ is a meditation of music – which is why I guess I’ll never know what that thing is at 2:21.

 

 Photo Credit: Sunbeam Sound Machine

 

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