By Lisa Morgan  (Feature Photo above by Katrin Saalfrank)

This collective soundscape is nothing short of transcendent and mesmerizing. It is the brilliant gathering of troubadours and the culmination of their respective careers dedicated to innovative music. The decadent layers began with the guitar tracks of Gary Arce, founder of Yawning Man, noted to be one of the first influential bands in the desert rock scene.  Arce’s six string voicings and ambient melody lines have always had the power to transport the listener into a dream, but the creamy vocal layers in this delicious serving, are a dark, sexy dream in full color.

With the nudge of Harper Hug, owner of Thunder Underground Studios, vocals were introduced to Arce’s traditionally lyric-free soaring sounds.  Long-time friend and world renowned desert rock vocalist, John Garcia, was brought in (Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, Aqua de Anniqe, Kyuss Lives!, Vista Chino).  Sera Timms (vocalist and bassist for Black Mare, Ides of Gemini, Black Math Horsemen) was also invited.  Both, with the finesse wielded only by seasoned troubadours fallen on the sword of innovative song crafting, brought riveting vocal instruments to the table.  Fantastically and tastefully produced, this otherworldly project named ZUN by Arce, will leave you with a deep need for more.

Sera Timms:  Timms’ vocals are absolutely intuitive and would bring depth to any project.  This is the obvious evolution of her tenured experience in experimental rock.   Vocalist and bassist for Ides of Gemini and formerly of the recently disbanded Black Math Horseman, her current project, Black Mare, focuses on rhythmic repetition and atmospheric simplicity, unveiling a creative process that is all Sera’s own, and it is a brilliant pairing with Arce’s haunting riffs and  dreamy psychedelic, wordless story telling. Timms’ hypnotic voice, ever sweet yet ever dark, seems as though it was always meant to fuse with Arce’s guitar. Sera recently completed a new Black Mare album which will be out in late 2016. Ides of Gemini are writing their next record, and doing a short West Coast tour in April.

John Garcia: While many embody different unique and equally important aspects of what the world has come to know as Desert Rock, John Garcia’s voice represents the soft sand of the dunes versus the harsher harder crust of the desert sound in this project. Like the desert herself, John’s spirit and voice have remained strikingly strong, soulful and genuine in a constantly besieged and changing environment with an authenticity that can only be earned, not taught. His vocals and lyric lines draw you into the abyss while covering you in velvet.  It is a voice you would follow anywhere because you believe every word that floats out of his deep melodic soul. “Working with Gary on this project along side Robby Krieger and Harper Hug was a blast.  Such a cool interesting project, and challenging.  New explorations are always welcome and this project was certainly that….dig Gary’s direction and vibe for Zun.”

Gary Arce:  Arce creates music that has the thumbprint of a soul that feels safe at home but is forced to wander – like a deep thirst fed only drops at time, but never fully quenched.  The angst that rests underneath every sweet riff and melody line he creates resonates in all of us – lost and afloat in a dream, sometimes sweet, sometimes dark, but strangely comfortable. Arce doesn’t simply create music, he creates experience – experience you are free to build your own imaginary world around, with or without your own words.  It is the reason continents of people who have lived through many more seasons, much darker than ours, clamor to Yawning Man performances.  Somehow, the addition of lyrics and vocals does not take anything away from Arce’s signature, and therein lies the magic of ZUN.

CV Weekly had the privilege of hearing from some of the key collaborators to this new project, whose album was set to be released March 25th of this year but looks to launch sometime before Yawning Man’s fall European Tour.

Harper Hug (Drums, Owner- Thunder Underground Studio):  “I met Gary four years ago when he came in my studio to work on some new Yawning Man material. We have a lot in common and became friends pretty quickly. I think that is evident in how much we have done together in such a short time. In those four years we have worked on Yawning Man, Ten East, Dark Tooth Encounter, John Garcia, Steak, and Yawning Sons together. I feel like Gary is my brother. Gary wanted to do something that was different. Gary’s projects have been primarily instrumental. We decided to add vocals but in a more ambient way that supported the music.”

“It seemed to come together naturally. The first track we posted with Sera Timms in 2013 got a positive response which motivated us to do a full-length record. Gary had contributed to a John Garcia solo record I had produced, and it seemed like a perfect fit. Gary and John have been friends since the Kyuss days. Gary wrote the Kyuss song “Catamaran”. It’s great to see such love and mutual respect between two artists. It’s inspiring to me.”

“I think the vocals really elevate the music which is what Gary really wanted. I think both John and Sera treated their vocals as instruments complementing Gary’s avant-garde style. I am very proud of the final result. Gary and I learned a lot on this journey. We want to take another trip soon!”

Sara Timms:  “I’ve been a fan of Yawning Man for many years, especially Gary’s guitar style. Mario Lalli (who played bass on two of the tracks) has been supportive of my music for many years, and I look up to him as an amazing musician, as well as a person who’s maintained true musical integrity throughout his career. Gary and I agreed then that it was a good idea to collaborate, but things did not align until Zun was born.”

“I kind of feel like I get to visit another world on this project as it consists of people that all come from the desert and share a musical history with the exception being me. I’m from the forest originally, and that is something that always influences my creativity. There is a place in Death Valley where you’re in the middle of the vast desert at sea level, but there is a mountain you can drive up to the top of in 20 min or so and be surrounded by these ancient Bristlecone Pines and sometimes snow, and look out across the desert. It’s a place where two worlds come together – that’s what this project feels like to me.”

“Sonically, Gary and I have very similar sensibilities, and it’s always special to work with someone who seems to pull from the same well of creativity as yourself. I think we both seek whether consciously or not, to find a place in music that is timeless, spacious, and colored by one’s eternal soul.”

“Also, John Garcia! Kyuss was hugely influential to me in my formative years of playing music, and I will always hold any of those guys in high regard. It’s an honor to be in a project with all of these people.”

Gary Arce:  “ZUN initially was simply Harper Hug editing, and looping guitar parts I had laid down at Thunder Underground in Palm Springs.  He called me asking me to come in and listen to what he had done, and I was really inspired. I laid down bass parts and lap steel, but it still felt incomplete. I was always a huge fan of Sera Timms vocals, and we had spoken in the past and this was our chance. I sent her a few tracks to listen to. She started on three of the tracks.”

“John Garcia and I have known each other since we were basically kids growing up in the desert scene. We also have spoken a lot about doing music together. I contacted him and sent him a few tracks and he picked what he felt comfortable with. Harper laid down drum tracks on four of the songs, and Bill Stinson played on two of the songs (which we tracked live). Both John and Sera came up with the lyrics and melodies to the tracks.”

This first born child of this collective is set to release March 25, 2016, but as album releases go, nothing ever seems to go as scheduled.  Follow this project at to stay updated.

Nothing Farther – featuring John Garcia –

Into the Wasteland – featuring Sera Timms –

Yawning Man is set to release a new EP, Historical Graffiti from Buenos Aries, Argentina through Netherland’s Laybar Recordings. And a new Ten East album (title pending) will be released on Burning World Records (also based in the Netherlands).  YM is scheduled for a new tour with new female bassist, Justine Summer Heaven.