LIKE HIS boisterous and frenetic drumming, Sun Angle's Papi Fimbres can take over a room—especially after a couple tequilas. And it's contagious. Right now we're hanging out in the back room of Bunk Bar with his bandmates, guitarist Charlie Salas Humara and bassist Marius Libman, drinking just out of earshot of the awful white-boy funk band on stage.
Sun Angle has managed to capture all the recklessness of their live shows on their debut full-length, Diamond Junk, a record that is relentlessly spastic to the point that those with heart conditions might want to avoid it. "It really transcends what we do live," Fimbres says. "I don't know how the fuck we did it."
Having Menomena's Danny Seim produce it didn't hurt. Fueled by weed, booze, and 'shrooms, Diamond Junk was recorded over two sessions—one at a home studio in Portland, and the other in a cabin in Zigzag, Oregon. Seim, who also plays keys on the record, turned the sessions into a cohesive piece.
Sun Angle's music is no doubt built around Fimbres' drumming. It's controlled chaos, both sloppy and precise. Fimbres, who started playing piano at age three, grew up listening to cumbia music while living in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, and it creeps into the rhythms. He says he's currently in 17 bands (10 of them active), but it wasn't until Sun Angle that his drumming style emerged. It somehow has found a place among the comparative stoicism of Libman's bass lines and Humara's scrappy, echo-laden guitar noise and ghostly vocals.
"Part of what we do is not try to be dynamic," explains Humara. "It's something I struggle with. We know we're not going to appeal to everyone."
The result combines the spacey sounds of Miles Davis' early '70s electric era with the fuzzed-out psych of Los Dug Dug's and the unhinged freakiness of Pere Ubu. It is a full-on assault, and with that, not necessarily everyone's shot of tequila. But buried beneath the spazz are melodies; "Creeping Sun" and "Bones Are Ruff" are catchy as they are busy. One thing is certain: At their shows, there are few sightings of people standing with their arms folded.
All three members have played in countless other bands (Humara in Panther, Libman in Copy, and Fimbres in Paper/Upper/Cuts, to name just three), but they agree Sun Angle is the perfect match. You can sense the individual personalities of the members coming through in the music. Hell, after my second Iceberg—Bunk's trademark drink, a beer topped with a dollop of frozen margarita—I feel like I'm ready to join the band.
Sun Angle have captured lightning in a bottle with Diamond Junk. Still, I get the sense that the music they're making now won't resemble what you'll hear on their future recordings. The three are toying with the idea of—gasp!—using more dynamics in their songs. That might seem out of the question now, but one thing's for sure: These guys are full of surprises. "I can't make the same record twice," says Humara. "I'd get super fucking bored."