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Sonogram, "Arrival Lounge"

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I have to preface this review by telling how I first discovered Todd Gautreau's music back in my college radio days. I worked the overnight shift playing industrial and experimental music to the drunk and/or studious kids at Boston University. Alone in the studio at 1AM, browsing the shelves for new music becomes a weekly activity. It was here that I found a dark ambient album (though nothing as grim as the Cold Meat Industry I used to play) by a project called Tear Ceremony. I really enjoyed 'Film Decay' because it was different from so much of what I was used to listening to. Later, however, we received a CD by another project of Gautreau's named Sonogram. 'Heartbeat Submarines' was an impressive work, overflowing with positive vibes and ultra-warm synth tones (such as on the excellent "Dresden Girls" and "Concave Heart"). Having said all that, the arrival (weak pun intended) of this new Sonogram CD in my mailbox was a welcome surprise. The same feelings evoked from the prior album are present here on 'Arrival Lounge,' accompanied this time by more prominent yet still rather light beat structures. The title track opens the album with a piano line similar to Radiohead's "Everything In It's Right Place," but instead of being glitchy and bizarre, morphs into a smooth jazzy ambient piece. The pace stays relatively downtempo for the bulk of the album, increasing in pace occasionally like on "Portal", a drum n' bass track stuffed with Sonogram's signature noodly synths. Some other highlights here include the deep house groove of "Pixel Dust" and Moog-like textures of "Hummer." Though Gautreau seems to release exclusively through Simulacra, I could easily see songs like "Dramamine" appear on some high-profile experimental labels out there, despite the ever-present pop sentiments. In a day and age where Brazilian rhythms and rehashed bossa nova classics are appropriated by well-dressed Austrian DJs for martini swilling crowds in jet-set lounges (boy do I wish I was in one of those right now), Sonogram gives a welcome alternative for the laptop set desperately needing a break from all of Squarepusher noise and Kid606 mashups.



Last Updated on Sunday, 15 January 2006 04:14  


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