26 May 2019

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Social Shun - Album Review: Songs For Sea Lions

03 Mar 2017 // A review by Peter-James Dries

This album was not intended to be listened to by humans. To my Sea Lion friends, I know your struggles, I know your pain. Time to rise up and bask in the Glory of Sir Swims In Circles.

Now if there is ever an album I expected to come out the other side of thinking “WTF did I just listen to?!” this would be that album.

I could have expected this manoeuvre from Social Shun; an artist who doesn’t care what you think, so much so that he has made an album specifically for the ears of Sea Lions titled Songs for Sea Lions.

It’s not a new concept. Albeit in the fiction universe, Dethklok’s Dethwater, an album only meant to be heard by fish is another example, and this was before a research group accidentally discovered sharks like Death Metal music. I’m sure there were many other forgotten LPs from the Acid soaked 60s released with a similar target audience.

The only WTF moment was realising this is better than I could have ever expected. Despite the concept, maybe even because of the concept, this is easily the most palatable of the three Social Shun albums I’ve come across so far. This is something that could sit on the Radioactive Wellington or Radio Control Palmerston North Student/Underground radio stations.

There’s a more consistent tone across the entire album, with less genre fusions and experimental knob tweaking solos. No distorted screams. Like lo-fi snippets from Nine Inch Nail’s Ghosts, without the soft edges and moody textures Trent Reznor became so obsessed with after the Fragile.

And it’s more refined, less Chaotic. Perhaps the product of a mind more focused on where they want this music to be going, or an artist who has found their groove. Maybe without the pressure of performing for close minded sheep like the majority of the music consuming market, Social Shun can be free to just do what he does.

And what he does now is Drum and Bass for the Underwater Junglist. Although I don’t have the technology, or the bath tub for an underwater listening session to be like the Sea Lion, the appeal in the land air is there.

That’s not to say Social Shun has forgone all of the inside humour of the previous albums. Is mayonnaise an instrument? No, but Sea Lion is an instrument on this album, which is not only for Sea Lions, but by Sea Lions. And then there is the absurdist spoken word poem in the middle, which fools you into a false nature documentary and leaves you with something unusual on the level of Kurt Vonnegut or David Firth’s Salad Fingers.

Songs For Sea Lions is how I imagined Industrial to sound before I actually heard it; that solid beat of a decimated machine layered with the whirring of rotting electric wiring. Never building up to anything, just performing the task then ending. Like a good little gimpy machine. The lack of build-up to a rise, and the vestigial Verse/Chorus/Verse structure kind of makes you wish for an hour mix of some of the tracks, however impractical such a concept would be. Something of a soundtrack to me pushing through the stream of pedestrians on sidewalks during the lunch hour.

What’s next for Social Shun? How do you live up to the expectations when you’re at the top of your game? What other species can he cater to?

Perhaps the acoustic Shunned EP will be new direction, and open the music up to a new audience. But then again, the audience never mattered to Jason, not the human ones, although being from the same tortured bedroom artist world; I know it would be nice to know they’re there sometimes.

You can find Songs For Sea Lions on the Social Shun Bandcamp.

Being as it was never made to be heard by humans, it’s a free/pay what you want download, which works well for Sea Lions, who aren’t known for their internet shopping.

If you come across a sea lion, shake its hand and say howdy, as they are the true holders of the keys of a modern utopia.


About Social Shun

Social Shun became official after releasing tracks on Reverbnation in 2011 but He has been mucking round with music software and instruments for nine years.

Social Shun is a solo project and was made to release pain, stress, anger, boredom and frustration of day to day living in a positive creative way. The straight forward approach to music and lyrics is key, Promoting honesty and freedom of speech in a raw, direct, in your face fashion. Not shackled to one Genre Social Shun infuses many different aspects and vibes of music.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Social Shun


Songs For Sea Lions
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Big Gorilla
Year: 2015
Type: Album
The Garden Of Sweden
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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