A vast and somewhat aimless sophomore project
Angel Deradoorian (of Dirty Projectors fame) is back after a five-year, solo hiatus with Find the Sun, her second full-length release. The project is undeniably ambitious, and is recklessly adventurous to point of detriment. It becomes clear very early in the album that even in the most satisfying and genuinely gorgeous moments, Deradoorian has a tendency to rest on her laurels, and relax into certain grooves, sounds or patterns for just a bit too long. Sometimes her tracks still end up working extremely well, but there are a few particularly unfortunate examples of Deradoorian’s worst qualities that stand out among these mostly solid tracks.
The album begins with “Red Den” and “Corsican Shores,” a perfect pair of examples for where Deradoorian’s tendency to wander can be extremely rewarding and effective. The album’s very first bit of instrumentation is incredibly laidback yet foreboding interplay between two guitars and crisp drums. Deradoorian’s airy vocals and cryptic lyrical exploration of spirituality work together with the sparse instrumentation beautifully to introduce the vague sense of hypnotic darkness that pervades much of these 10 tracks. “Corsican Shores,” while less open-ended, works in similar fashion.
Coincidentally, the next three tracks, “Saturnine Night,” “Monk’s Robes” and “The Illuminator” are all examples of where Deradoorian’s more self-indulgent proclivities start to get in the way of her greater artistic intentions. Frankly, all three of these tracks way over-stay their welcome. “Saturnine Night” goes practically nowhere vocally or instrumentally, and ends with a sorry excuse for climax. Instead of the intriguing hypnosis of the first couple tracks, these tracks just compel sleepiness. Aside from the hymn-like and eerie conclusion of “Monk’s Robes,” these are a long 18 minutes, over nine of which are dedicated to the uncomfortable slog that is “The Illuminator.”
The second half of the album exists somewhere in between the high peaks and deep valleys of the first five tracks, probably a bit closer to the peaks. There are plenty of exciting moments throughout these cuts, like the combination of that full guitar tone and Deradoorian’s spooky voice and lyrics on “It Was Me,” the resonant and exciting brood-fest that is the penultimate “Mask of Yesterday” and “Sun,” the bubbling conclusion that wraps up the environment and vibe that she struck on the first track fairly well. Unfortunately though, it does feel like she is punching slightly below her weight here in terms of songwriting, and there is definitely some lingering Deradoorian fatigue as a result of her trouble with pace by the final moments of “Sun.”
The main thing that makes it so tough to be hard on this album is Deradoorian’s impressive willingness to go in unexpected directions. There’s a world in which an almost ten minute detour like “The Illuminator” is just the flourish that a purposefully dark album like this needs. To make matters even worse, Deradoorian’s willingness to experiment and explore ideas that others might shoot down is probably exactly what it would take to make a track like that work. That bravery just ended up a bit misguided on Find the Sun. It felt like after years of amazing feature work and other projects, it might finally be time for Deradoorian to step into her own well-deserved spotlight on the back of a full-length solo work that can stand on its own. This is not that moment, but there is still plenty of reason to believe that that moment is coming very soon.