"Sunshine Seas" by New Zion w. Cyro Will "Trip You Out"

The last time we heard from the adventurous Jamie Saft, he'd released The New Standard an all-analog straight ahead jazz trio album engineered by the great Joe Ferla.

Sunshine Seas (Rare Noise RNR065LP) is Saft's third excursion into Jamaican flavored dub music and his first with New Zion for Rare Noise Records. He plays piano and various vintage keyboards, plus electric bass and guitar parts. He's joined by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, with whom he's previously partnered. If you're thinking "how does thick, bass heavy Jamaican dub, mix with Brazil's airy, tropical samba sounds", you are thinking what i was thinking going into my first listen.

But rather than start at the beginning of this absolutely mesmerizing sonic spectacular, I suggest starting with side "C"'s "Onda". Do it late at night with the lights out after putting on your favorite buzz (whether chemical or spiritual). I promise you, a few seconds in, you will start seeing colors, lose your grip on space (but not time!) and become immersed in a fun-house of oncoming sonic fire as Saft and Baptista throw at you an assortment of percussive blips and shimmers (as well as Baptista's fanciful vocal effects) anchored by a strong bass beat that undulates from right channel to center rotating timber with each shift. If your system goes low (for dub it's almost a pre-requisite for total enjoyment), you'll feel each pulse pleasurably pass through you.

The recording is spectacularly three-dimensional with some percussive hits landing in your lap and others well behind your speakers—all across a wide stage that completely removes your speakers from the picture. Saft and Baptista never forget their responsibilities to keep you engaged as the rhythmic groove cycles and recycles so they keep the percussive hits and electronic bleeps and blogs coming. You'll get lost in it and love every second.

Back to side one of the first record you'll hear thick heavy dub dominate the first track and more familiar breezy Brazilian the next, though the music continually tries to find common ground with both genres. The title track is the record's most melodic and lilting tune sang by Vanessa Saft, Jamie's wife of fifteen years (I looked it up).

I'm going to bring 96/24 rips of album tracks to upcoming hi-fi shows and store appearances and I am 100% convinced that everyone who hears it will end up buying Sunshine Seas for both music and sound. The most listening fun I've had in quite some time (I don't give out "10"s for sound lightly). Available through the Rare Noise website and on Amazon.com.

But why take my word for this when you can listen for yourself to "Braziljah" twice: once through the VPI Prime turntable with Lyra Helikon SL cartridge and Audio Alchemy PPA-1 phono preamp and again through the Continuum Caliburn turntable, SAT arm with Audio-Technica ART1000 cartridge and silver edition of the Ypsilon VPS-100 phono preamp with 16L step up transformer:

Mile High Music's picture

Reminds me of chill music compilations, especially some by "Cafe Del Mar". :-)

Lazer's picture

I want the prime because I can't afford the Caliburn. The difference in the fullness of the soundstage is stunning.

pip5528's picture

You can't really get the Caliburn because it's been discontinued sadly. However, you could check out the Continuum Obsidian if you want. Personally, I also like the Prime. I would like to get one myself.

gbruzzo's picture

May be found at this address:


Kindest regards

Giacomo Bruzzo

AnalogJ's picture

Wow, the difference between the two is not subtle! There is a distinction and separation with is so solid and real with the Caliburn! Wow! It's mesmerizing. The VPI is good and close to the sort of sound I hear at home, but the Caliburn is on its own planet. How much of the difference is the table and how much is the phono stage, since those are both variables?

2MnyToys's picture

"How much of the difference is the table and how much is the phono stage, since those are both variables?" My thoughts exactly. Any chance of a video with the other phone stage and cartridge on a Prime?

Lazer's picture

I agree with everything you said..the difference is not subtle...it is truly stunning how something that sounds really good can be elevated to another dimension.

Auric G's picture

forget the ~30k tonearm. ;)

Michael Fremer's picture
Is a major factor...
Wimbo's picture

on the Caliburn with the Copperhead tonearm and various cartridges at my old workplace and all the lessons learnt on how to listen to HiFi over the last 30 plus years went straight down the sink after the first time listening.I can't explain how good it is.

Yovra's picture

Aside from the impressive hardware....I ordered the album! I'm a novice to 'dub', but this promises some fine music and quite a few great sounds! Thanks for the tip!

Kirby's picture

Album came today and i'm now giving it my first listen. Loving It!!! Thanks again Michael. also picked up The New Standard, haven't played it yet,can't wait