Instrumental music isn’t something we expected from Jesse Sprinkle’s Sunsites. But as I found myself listening to the beautiful guitars and cello that grace this fine album, I realized it was connecting to my soul.
My suspicions were confirmed when I asked Jesse about what was going on when he made Sunsites in 1996. First, a little context. You have to understand this was the debut songwriting effort for a drummer, and a drummer for a noise-pop outfit (Poor Old Lu) at that. More than a few folks were surprised when Jesse’s first solo album consisted not of the edgy rock sound he had become associated with but something you’d expect to have “Windham Hill” slapped on it somewhere.
Sprinkle says, “I want to challenge younger people to find the value of quiet, contemplative music and I want older people to be exposed to younger artists. So this is a record I had to do. It was what was inside me. I used to listen to nothing but heavy metal and my life was changed when I learned the value of soft, gentle music.”
As I spent more and more time with the splendid record, the eerie sense grew that I was being told stories even though Sunsites contains no vocals. So it was no shock to hear Jesse say, “It wasn’t that I didn’t have any lyrics or anything to say, it’s just that the music I was writing was saying things that I couldn’t say in words. It was a transition for me, to learn to tell stories with music. The words were going to come later.” (And by the way, they have with the debut release of Jesse’s new band The World Inside, Roobrik.)
Sprinkle has done a masterful job of sharing the emotion of his stories through the gorgeous soundscapes of Sunsites. You as the listener are free to superimpose your tales, passions and pathos right into the 16 tracks. Sprinkle remarked to me his amazement with the power of music association.
“I wanted people to associate the emotion of my music with significant events in their own lives.”
He confesses in a revealing moment that “Stars and Skittles” is nothing but a song about the two images that dominate his first memory of a pleasant evening lying on the earth with the young lady who would become his wife.
One of the outstanding features of this album is the masterful cello work of Seattle cellist and musician extraordinaire, Phil Peterson. Phil is an unusual musician in that he is classically trained, yet is willing to improvise. This makes him a most valuable player to an artist like Jesse Sprinkle who wishes to add some depth to pop music.