Isolation is an issue on his new "Space Criminal" album, and his new video presents him on his own.

sundog photo

In the fall of 2012, indie electronic artist Sundog was one of the local musicians who participated in the conceptual art installation, Never Records. As a result of it, he ended up with a vinyl copy of a song he cut in one take in the faux record store’s studio. He recently finished his new album, Space Criminal, and we’re pleased to debut the first video from it, a live version of “Superstitious” from the album that reveals his process.

Isolation may not be a theme for Sundog, but it’s certainly a thread that gives the album continuity. On the cover, he’s in his trademark NASA spacesuit complete with helmet, fully cut off from the human race. He’s surrounded by five masked, hooded people, but they’re decoys, not band members. He’s a one-man band who builds his tracks himself by looping parts. As a result, many tracks are more groove than song, but the dub-like addition and subtraction of parts keeps them from going static as the textures are in subtle, constant motion. Their roots are in EDM and funk, so the hypnotic groove is its own reward in those songs. Still, it sounds like Sundog’s roots are in indie rock and electronica because the tracks seem wary of broad popularity and aren’t as funky as they could be.

Even when he makes a pop song, it is a lonely affair. “Dead and Gone” features the album’s most fully realized melody, which Sundog sings with a little indie soul first over a series of piano chords, then the same chords held on a synth with only a ticking piece of drum programming and an occasional, punctuating ascending series of notes plucked on a violin give the song shape. “Dead and Gone” is sweetly melancholy as it seems to look back on a relationship that went south, but his return to the line “Now that I’ve found you” in the chorus suggests a desire to connect, or at least to hang on that moment when they did.

There are occasions when the groove or hook isn’t as strong as necessary and my attention wanders, but more often than not Space Criminal is the sound of a musician in the process of discovering the breadth of his talents and his relationship to his community.