Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Gary Levitt, who plays most of the instruments on the latest full-length CD from his project Setting Sun, is adept at contrasts. His music bounces around stylistically, and it nervily touches on acoustic psychedelia, folky synth-pop and chamber-group shoegaze. It sounds like spacey heartland rock or an old-timey string band using electronics for punctuation.
It's impossible not to like a song such as "Sacrifice," which begins with the intensely strummed acoustic guitars and big-beat drums of a classic John Mellencamp number, then gets electro-dreamy with the addition of wheedling vintage-sounding synthesizers, and finally brings it all together behind assertive fiddling by Erica Quitzow and rich backing vocals that bloom like a storm cloud.
The same elements are in effect on the following tune, "Don't Grow Up," but they're rearranged into a trippy fever dream that feels all the more real for its disorienting time changes, shimmering electronic filigree and hazy vocals. By the time this one—or the halting, trumpet-laden "The Tree"—comes around, you'll appreciate the album's title.
The manner in which Levitt builds rich melody from stoned logic and isn't afraid to incorporate cheesy layered arrangements (nodding to the mainstream pop of the 1970s and '80s) recalls at different times the work of eccentric visionaries from Destroyer's Dan Bejar to the mighty Meat Puppets. Fantasurreal is initially a challenging listen, but worth the attention.