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Midnight Sister - "Saturn Over Sunset" | Album Review


by Jacob Dempsey (@satandoestweet)

Occasionally you are able to discover yourself amidst music that brings itself an aura of reminiscence and history. The very composition of its notes carry with them a built value prolonged by the feeling of a time, of a place. The debut album by Los Angeles based Midnight Sister is that sort of music. It is the brain child of dancer, writer, and filmmaker Juliana Giraffe and composer Ari Balouzian. With the group's roots in a city with so much history around its romanticized essence; its clear to see the heavy influence projected within their music by this feeling. The nostalgic sound that they take on is one filled with a beauty. Its strange pop disco noir exits your speakers and hit you in your soul. Existing around their music is a shifting transition of finding the sense of drama, sequence of narrative and emotive expulsion. Close your eyes and listen to tracks like "Leave You," "Blue Cigar," "Their Eyes," and "So Young". Envision a warm Los Angeles night drifting down Sunset Boulevard your face silhouetted by neon.  

While my appreciation for Saturn Over Sunset may be a bit biased because of the connection I have to the City of Angeles as my childhood home; it still presents itself with such an accessible creation of funky and danceable tracks. You’re entranced within its elastic movements jumping throughout the mystical ambience of its subject matter; LA. It musters such a refreshing creation of funk infused with a bearing of psychedelic pop that feels somewhat like the creation of a painting, colorful and expressive with underlying tones that revel amidst the the nuanced nods to disco artists of yesteryears. Decidedly as the two’s first musical adventure together in the pop genre there is a sort of rawness to that work that projects itself unapologetically. It lacks the influence that some performance musicians can acquire by being developed by the scenes they are amongst. Juliana Giraffe’s vocals feel less like a honed instrument and more like someone expressing an honest narrative of self and discovery. The quiet whispers of a story yet spoken yet already known. The sprawling expression of what she has kept to heart. Its easy for someone who didn’t grow up in Los Angeles to not understand the sense of romantic mysticism you feel growing up there. Its this strange supernatural reality of beautiful art deco buildings juxtaposed by three-hour long traffic on a freeway and late night diners basked in neon. It’s the walking of a warm night, filled amongst a city of dreamers. This album fully envelopes that feeling and more, giving nods to the eras that made its development so historic.

The music feels like it could fit as a film score which I assume is intentional. Upon examining their work further you’ll soon discover some of the most beautifully arranged music videos. These are by far some of the best I have seen in a very long time. Saturn Over Sunset’s videos feel as though they are the integral part of a narrative work. The costuming and set design down to the very dot with intention.