Flamongo is the brainchild of Austria’s Alexander Trinkl, who is also a respected and prolific visual artist and graphic designer. Sun Dreams is the third full length Flamongo album release in two years. The music falls into the category of lo-fi ambience / noise, and Trinkl composed, performed, produced and mixed the record himself.
The album begins with "Braunungsstreifen" (“tan lines”), which features an evocative synth wash slowly unfolding over the top of a field recording of what sounds like a dismal rainy day. Slightly unnerving yet also strangely relaxing and calming, the music creates a picture of an idyllic dream set against the reality of everyday drudgery. Towards the end, the music becomes more and more unsettling and discordant, until loud otherworldly crashes replace the calm ambience. “Schilling wird angenommen” (which I think means “coin is accepted”) starts with a continuation of the rain sound, with distant cars now audible as well. Strange glitchy rhythms begin to come to the fore alongside mournful and lugubrious synth textures. The track exudes a strange kind of sadness as it gradually becomes more intense, with sounds of doors opening and closing juxtaposed against sci-fi synthesizers. “Absprung Tunnelwurm” (jump tunnel worm) follows, and again the rain sample continues. A lush pulsating pad texture enters, along with a an unsettling feedback-like whistle sound. Twisted snippets of piano and synth melodies peak out of the wash as more harsh ambient sounds (that sound like speeding trains) muscle their way in. “Satan & des Messers Zweck” (“Satan & the knife’s purpose”) is based around what sounds like a heavily distorted sludge metal guitar sound. Strange synthesizers also begin to writhe around and collide. Samples of what could be a train station announcement, and of church bells and choirs, eventually start to take over. It is eerie and affecting. As this track ends and “Unter der Brucke” (“under the bridge”) begins, the rain sounds carry on, and then a forlorn and nostalgic accordion wades to centre-stage. As the accordion moans through its sorrowful passages, the sound becomes gradually more twisted and distorted as though shifting into a weird nightmare. The rain still pours as album closer “Endzeit Ketzergasse” (“endtimes heretic alley”) begins. Ghostly discordant wailing synth textures swirl around. Listening to this feels like being stuck on a very strange broken down ghost train. Gradually, romantic piano chords begin to emerge from the ethereal textures. The sound has been run through delirious effects so that this sounds like a distorted and queasy reality. As air-raid sirens and disturbing bass synths gradually come through, the feeling becomes gradually more and more intense and menacing. As it all slowly fades out we are left, yet again, with the relentless precipitation, along with a distant sounds of a passing train and far-away thunderclaps.
The album cover (also by Trinkl) is an excellent piece of graphic design, featuring an overcast sky and a rain-soaked street with a rather dilapidated and boarded up old unit adorned with the sign “Sun Dreams” and the “Flamongo” logo. Perhaps this building used to be a sun-tanning salon. Either way, the effect is powerful, and the image perfectly compliments the music.
Sun Dreams is the most accomplished, evocative and cohesive album Flamongo has so far put out. It takes the listener on a journey and it manipulates the emotions in subtle but very effective ways as the sounds and atmospheres unfold to create a dreamlike and at times somewhat dystopian sound world. Each track has its own identity, but the whole work is held together by the use of recurring themes and sounds including the ever-present rain which serves as an anchor to reality even when the nightmare of the music itself is steering wildly out of control. Excellent stuff!
Sun Dreams is released on 1st May 2021 via HauRuck on vinyl and as a digital download.