Sumilan – En Transit
By Randy Harris
Athens, Georgia, the Classic City, has been the embryo of creativity for a number of well-known bands and individual musicians. Sumilan will most certainly join this A-List of some of the most impeccable musical talent, as their latest album, En Transit, represents a strong and bold step forward for the group. Released on March 28, 2015, the album combines hard rock, funk, dance and jazz to create a nonstop party from front to back. Sumilan (pronounced SUE-muh-lahn) is made up of Sam Whitfield (drums), Harris Culley (guitar, vocals), Mark Dykes (bass, vocals), JT Toro (guitar), and Alex Stokes (keyboards, vocals). Over the past five years, the quintet has honed their sound and molded it into the psychedelic, enigmatic force it has become today. From mature, relatable vocals to straight up rockin’ guitar, and all the way down to the driving momentum of the drums, Sumilan is a musical force to be reckoned with, a fact that is apparent from start to finish on their new album.
The first song on En Transit, “World Is Getting Closer,” begins the record with so much force and energy that I was knocked back in my chair the first time I gave it a spin. The relatively slow beat is dug in with such a tight groove that it takes listeners on a journey through the clouds from the very start. “Escape Plan” takes the album to a whole new level after a deceptively placid intro. Psychedelic stabs kickstart “Break It Off,” as the drum driven, minimalistic aura complements the whimsical vocals. “Ain’t Missing You” brings back the funk with an ‘80s dance feel, while the raging guitar intro of “Uncalled For” prepares the listener for a sheer onslaught of hard rock. “All We Know” brings about a somewhat different dynamic. The drums and bass start off rapid and rolling, while the chorus erupts into a euphoric aural illusion. “Falling Below” keeps the euphoric intensity up, augmented by a funky bridge section, and then “Know My Name” seems to take a powerful, unwavering stance, musically preparing for the ultimate final track, “Broken Toes.” The all instrumental album closer brings back the ‘80s style dance feel during the verse but explodes into the euphoric theme of the second half of the album to land listeners in a stupor after an incredible record of music.
As that certain something that makes bands great becomes harder and harder to dig out in the digital age, and the word “pop” has become almost a negative genre description, Sumilan breaks down both of these borders, simultaneously creating a unique sound and touching just enough of the “pop” feel to make the songs relatable for all ages, shapes and sizes. Not to mention the tidal waves of psychedelic synths that send listeners inside themselves and helps us to break through with the power of music. I cannot wait to see what comes next from Sumilan.