Written, produced, and mixed on an Amsterdam houseboat, Sunstruck is the melodic new album from Van Common, the project of Berlin-based Dutch musician Sebastiaan van Ravenhorst. Whereas 2019 EP Time Is A Dream embraced the shoegaze and dream-pop spectrums with wholehearted intent, Sunstruck furthers the sound with more moving electronic-forward soundscapes.
The album’s initial intent was that of an “uplifting synth-driven pop record,” following a period of reflection. Van Common began the process, and found particular adoration with the “boundless possibilities” of sample-driven production techniques. This re-energized fascination with production combines with themes that reflect a desire to emerge from hardship relatively unscathed, resulting in an album with kind aspirations amidst its melodic, synth-inclined songwriting.
The immediate soaring vocal yearning on “Human” glides amidst ruminating synth brightness to start, emphasizing the album’s knack for balancing the brightly melodic and emotively moody. Elsewhere, “Olympia” achieves a similar pull, with its nocturnal open — in both its muted synths and lyrical sleepiness — driving to an anthemic rousing. And on more darkly enveloping constants like “Overflow,” the more ambient-forward direction compels just as well. Sunstruck is a stellar showing from Van Common.
“Sunstruck” and other tracks featured this month can be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Best of May 2023’ Spotify playlist.