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Sonanaut "Sinking Upwards"
Wonderful down-tempo aural landscapes from Sonanaut

With the release of "Sinking Upwards" Simon Smart, performing as Sonanaut, has crafted a fine example of environmental triphop, a chilled work that aurally explores and examines urban ambience and spaces. Moving through a variety of moods and locales, Smart's work is slick, evocative and engaging, the perfect soundtrack for a nighttime tour through the heart of an unnamed city.

"Induction" opens the disc, sounds heard from a distance, a muffled beat gaining clarity and space. It soon evolves into a thick environment heavy with percussive elements and driving bass. A repeated chorus plays through the sound in a steady pattern, a melodic addition that brings a certain warmth to the track, something to keep it bright and inviting. It's a nice way to start the disc, and a great way to introduce the themes within.

"Reasons" follows, sweeping through the senses, taking the listener on a trippy ride through some of the shinier parts of town. There's a nice groove at play here courtesy of some percolating synths, something very appealing about the way it grows and builds, a wonderful musical accompaniment to an evening's drive.

"Judith's Way" is a playful and romantic track with bright arpeggios and vocal shine. Pads ebb and flow into a nice melodic section blending an elastic bass line with some sweet synth lines. It all comes together nicely, a well put together lounge track that sets the toes tapping and the heads bobbing at a sensibly relaxed rate, and really, isn't that what all the best tracks do?

"Mind over Matter" continues our trip, a drift through all the most happening places in town, the places that only people in the know go to. A steady beat keeps us rooted to our transport while a constant bass line rolls through the track, the suggestion of tension and the sexy swagger of possibility.

"Carbon" is up next, opening with a feedback drenched guitar line paired with an urgent beat. Spanish guitar plays over top giving it all a really nice, really human feel. The beat picks up speed around the 1:30 mark, a quick shuffle that adds an immediacy to the track. I'm not going to try and make an urban comparison here, I can't really think of anything that does it justice, but don't worry, it fits in with the theme of the disc.

"Within This City" is based around a steady melody surrounded by a cityscape of sounds that suggest late nights in a sprawling metropolis. Muted horns and sax ebb and flow throughout the track, while pads sweep by echoing the sound of traffic. It's a subtle track, something more for late night listening than anything else, something for when all the bars have closed and all that's left is cruising around waiting for dawn to come. Needless to say, it's very successful at what it does.

In contrast to previous tracks, "The Twins" has a vaguely industrial sound to it, not so much in terms of the musical genre, so much as it recreates the sounds of industry. A certain Fritz Lang feel permeates this track, voices rising through the sounds of steam and repeated bass lines. I imagine an underground workspace, a million factories each filled with people who's only purpose in life is to maintain a hungry machine. Certainly an evocative piece that creates more than a few mental images.

"Don't You Know?" returns us to more friendly locales, a groovy rhythm section filling out a space filled with sweeps and synthscapes. Scratch below the surface and you'll find that there's a wealth of sounds happening within the track, all bubbling beneath the surface waiting to be discovered, much like the stories that hide beneath the surface of any city. A well produced track offering much to the listener to discover.

"David" uses a steady piano line over top a slowly shifting synth pad, a fine example of oblique motion at work. Over time the piece gains volume and size, filling out the soundscape, reaching a peak where the listener is entirely surrounded and enveloped by the work. I've always liked immersive pieces like this, something that builds up around the senses. My only regret is that it ends a little too soon after the peak for my taste, I would have liked to have spent a little more time exploring this space.

"I Can Feel You" opens with a blend of pads and reversed synth stabs creating a simple melody of sorts. As the track continues, volume and strength increase until the synth lines are almost explosive over top a deep bass line. A simple yet engaging track that draws one in and maintains interest from start to finish.

The last track, "From Now On" brings to mind Ryan Hagarman's work as Spatial Correlation, a futuristic lounge-y ambience as filtered through contemporary eyes. Sounds for future living that have filtered through the time stream to be listened to now. It's a nice way to close the disc, a satisfying end to a very satisfying collection of music.

From start to finish, "Sinking Upwards" does an excellent job of creating a vibrant and full environment, a very real and living city scene that is striking in it's detail. Throughout the disc I'm led to feel as if I know the streets and sites of this new space, and repeated listenings have given me a sense of belonging to the music that I find very appealing. A truly impressive work that I thoroughly enjoy.

rik - ping things

page last updated 12/02/07