One Layer at a Time: ‘Somewhere There’s Music’ by SUNDUR

DJ Platurn's ability to mine source material for its emotional gold continues with a collaboration with ghostly vocalist Savannah Lancaster.
By    June 18, 2021
Photo via Petur Magnusson

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Chris Daly still might fuck around and drink a Faygo.

Whether it’s De La Soul or Icelandic funk, DJ Platurn has built an enviable reputation on his ability to mine source material for its emotional gold, taking the seldom heard and transforming it into that pretty person at the party you’re sure you recognize, but can’t seem to recall quite from where. He ups his batting average on Somewhere There’s Music, his first project under the SUNDUR name with ghostly vocalist Savannah Lancaster.

Translating to “apart” in Icelandic, SUNDUR is one of the precious few pandemic-born projects that almost make you think the past year and change of COVID hell were worth it. In true self-confinement mode, the two met online and purposefully kept communications to a minimum as they worked Postal Service-style on the project. (For her part, Lancaster recorded her vocals in her home walk-in closet.) The result is somewhere between your favorite trip-hop and your favorite old-school jazz vocalists. (If both of these genres somehow are not in your favorite categories, you probably need to spend more time self-reflecting, but I digress.)

Said Platurn of the project, “SUNDUR didn’t necessarily start as one linear vision. The aim was to make mellow mood music but not necessarily of a specific genre. From the beginning, we had a mutual understanding of the importance of letting these songs come to life organically. By giving the music that space and time and working on each song one layer at a time, it ended up morphing into something of its own entirely.”

Lancaster’s soaring vocals, tinged with just enough world weary pathos to make it interesting, is a perfect fit for Platurn’s crate-dug soundscape. Let’s get this out of the way upfront — the opener “My Dear” and the titular “Somewhere There’s Music” already have secured places on my list of favorite tracks of 2021. The former is a languid, lazy river of vocal beauty and plucked strings, the latter is more plaintive, but no less gorgeous. Both feel tailor-made for large concert halls as well as much cozier clubs, wherever you happen to go to get your Ella/Billie groove on.

“Heart of Stone” would track perfectly on any Portishead album, and “The Long Road Ahead” will make you pine for more Massive Attack. In between, “Heady” delves into AM R&B while still wearing its hip-hop bonafides proudly on its sleeve, “Saman” proves Platurn’s skillset behind the turntables, and “Let Me Back In” is the pining, forlorn lovers track you didn’t know you were missing. Until now.

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