Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Sun-El Musician ft. Simmy – Higher

Title checks out…


Ian Mathers: If someone asks me why the Singles Jukebox seems to be so fond of both Simmy and Sun-El Musician, I’m just going to sit them down, hit play on this song, and grin like an idiot at them for the whole 8:13.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I know this is saying a lot given the sum total of what these two have put together over the past five years or so, but this might be the best thing they’ve ever done. It’s simpler and also subtler; the melody is pared down to the edge of a velvet knife, with Simmy gliding over it like there’s nothing else in the world she could possibly do. Sun-El Musician’s production is just as immaculate — the way he leaves the first and last minutes of the song completely bare, as close to just drums as his style allows, is a flex on its own. It’s a song like the rising and the setting of the sun: constant and reliable while never losing an inch of glory.

Alex Clifton: I have zero attention span these days (blame it on TikTok, a malfunctioning brain, anything really) so listening to anything over five minutes takes an effort from me. For Sun-El and Simmy, though, taking the time is not a chore. Good electronic music can go on for a long time but never feel overwhelmingly long, and not a second here is wasted — the song builds and flows so gorgeously, with Simmy’s voice fading in and out like little lights on a distant shore. It’s both electric and soothing, which is not a combination I hear often. Then again, if anyone can strike that balance, it’s these two musicians. It’s nice to hear music that encourages you to stay present and enjoy every moment that comes your way, a reminder that not everything needs to be fully experienced in thirty seconds or less.

Dorian Sinclair: I appreciate a song that is willing to take a bit of time to show its hand. “Higher” slowly builds its texture piece-by-piece, and that first chord being struck a minute in, after you’ve listened to all that groundwork being laid, feels like a revelation. Simmy’s voice, once she joins, has much the same impact — she has the same warmth she always does, and hearing her explore over the soundscape that’s been created is absolutely beautiful. All that said, the outro, as everything that’s been built gets taken apart in similarly systematic fashion, feels a bit like Sun-El Musician spinning his wheels, and I do think it could have been a bit shorter. It doesn’t spoil the song, but nor does it add much of anything.

Edward Okulicz: Intermittently gorgeous, as almost anything with Simmy’s voice is going to be, but I find my attention drifting in and out when I listen even when I focus — there’s so much that is more dreamlike than dancefloor-friendly about this song that it’s probably intended. And I don’t think that editing this song down to say, 4:30 in length would make it any less like a looming sunrise. Maybe that means I should be listening to it at 4:30 in the morning?

Will Adams: Both Sun-El and Simmy can always be relied on for some of the most beautiful music you’ve ever listened to. But “Higher” settles for mood more than anything, and the result is a pleasant, 8-minute drift that lacks the euphoric hit the pair so often provide. The repeated hook is a more muted iteration of “No Stopping Us”, which adds to the feeling that we’ve been here before, and it was stronger then.

Oliver Maier: Sun-El’s beat doesn’t quite take off like usual — the underlying chug is stiff, and the flourishes insist on beauty in a cloying, perfunctory sort of way, like a too-HD timelapse of a blooming flower. Simmy, I have to say, kind of phones it in, crooning prettily over the beat but never feeling in conversation with it. On top of everything else, it’s just too long.

Mark Sinker: His upcoming EP (which this is from) is called AEDM, for “African Electronic Dance Music”, and I wonder, I suppose, if there’s anything of it that a newcomer would hear as (South) African, assuming they didn’t already know who made it or who sang. I wonder this, but only very mildly — I’m not sure that it matters. Sun-El’s song “Ululate” features him ululating, for example — but Simmy’s vocal here is so gentle and caressingly soft and besides, the aimed-for mood is “universal transcendence”, so maybe local touches just aren’t the point.

Alfred Soto: A leisurely tour through the muddy river of mutant disco, King Sunny Ade, and the nightclubs of Western Europe, “Higher” offers another example of glistening electro-disco. It does not look easy. Sun-El’s devotion is ascetic in its concentration.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Higher < Higher ≤ Higher < Higher ≤ Higher ≤ Higher < Higher < Higher < Higher ≤ Higher ≤ Higher < Higher ≤ Higher < Higher < Higher

Nortey Dowuona: Once the bubbling, dripping toms are looped in, you could live within the raindrops forever, the crackling lightning synths buzzing between as the hi hats and shakers shimmer. Then the warm synth chords cluster them all and the kicks and snares thunder, booming as Simmy’s voice guides you away from the storm into its eye, which is the only ray of sunlight, her voice doubling with each sunbeam, widening the eye of the storm until you emerge from the rain drops, beginning to dry off. And all you have to do is chase Simmy’s voice, the rain a distant memory now as you are warm but not scorched, knowing you are safe as the rain blankets the land. As the world rejoices, you are alone in the sun, which begins to recede and fade, as the rain washes over you, soothing your sunburnt skin and refreshing your throat. You smile. A final sun ray shines away the last clouds, the sky a darkening blue.

Reader average: [8] (1 vote)

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2 Responses to “Sun-El Musician ft. Simmy – Higher”

  1. Wayne – how did you find space to include 3 versions of Taio Cruz in your formidable rankings but leave out the Saturdays?

  2. Sorry! Hadn’t heard it before!!!!

    Also I am a certified Taio Cruz apologist yikes

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