Hailing from LA, Walk Onto Sun is the solo experimental project of Ben Engebretson. Engebretson creates bleak wastelands of cold post-punk, laden with despairing lyrical undertones. And we say post-punk for lack of a better term for Walk Onto Sun’s experimental melange of instruments and pulsating rhythms.
Out September 27th on Icy Cold Records in collaboration with Manic Depression Records (digital and CD) and Phage Tapes (cassette), but streaming here early, “Walk Onto Sun” marks Engebretson’s first full length album. After two earlier EPs, he hits us with the same experimental vibes combining elements of industrial, post-punk, darkwave, and EBM but in a way that is more unsettling and refined.
This self titled solo effort will take you on hazy ride through a modern political climate of American unrest, yet it retains a humanistic emotion inspired by old-school early post-punk sounds. The album makes use of shoegaze effects such as heavy reverb to create a cool ambient darkwave atmosphere, allowing the vocals to sound faded or perhaps far off in the distance of a tear gas cloud.
The strong driving riffs of Tension City set the tone for this dreary underworld, and it’s rhythmic freshness is one of the album’s major highlights. Moodier songs Take the Statue Down and Cast in the Pale have more of a haunting auditorium atmosphere with a somber tone that focuses on Ben’s smooth vocals. With the track Medicate, we are graced with three different versions since the album caps with two completely different mixes, giving each take a new identity. The Sedated Spheric remix seems more reminiscent of Cevin Key’s Download project, while the Spheric remix bangs as a sharply hitting power tune that seems straight out the Wax Trax underground.
Empty Vessel kicks it into higher gear with jumps in pace between verses and chorus, but Engebretson’s vocals overlay it all with an unchanging calm. This guitar laden gem excites with intimidating anxiety before transitioning over to the stark ballad Feral Plains and the final original track on the album Grow Static. Both minimal and experimental, with early industrial influences, they continue the feeling of dread that the album so expertly evokes.
As a whole, “Walk Onto Sun” is a gratifying view into a beautiful uneasiness that shares a sense of foreboding from its lyrics and heavy distortion. Strongly recommended for fans of early post-punk and industrial, this will satisfy fans of PIL and Soft Kill alike.
Check out the previous releases by Walk Onto Sun through their Bandcamp here:
Also check out Maus and Azy’s in depth discussion on the new album.