‘Today I checked the direction of the wind, and thought about going surfing, even though there is no surf where I am currently pointed’.
The words found on the sleeve of Sonny’s enigmatically titled C.E EP perfectly encapsulates the feelings of longing and displacement permeating this four-track project. It’s an outstanding release for the newly launched label Koldt Bord. Copenhagen based Sonny, (also known as Xavier Bacash), has been part of Melbourne’s dance-indie outfit Gipsy and The Cat since 2010. Although some musical signatures can be heard within this new EP (typically the melodic use of synths), C.E marks a clear departure from his previous efforts.
Opening track Agoraphobia begins with sparse synths over a drum loop, building slowly until a forbidding bass line kicks in. As the title implies, the ultimate effect is a spacey, distorting exploration. There is a yearning for a seemingly unobtainable escape. The unexpected change in bass line towards the end of the song lifts the mood, suggesting an optimism and possible way out.
Tony Espie, Australian’s top mixing engineer (The Avalanches, Cut Copy) lends a hand on Alone In Ginza to create another atmospheric track. Piano keys nostalgically punctuating a break sample and sumptuous synth pads to a song inspired by a trip to Japan. The digital solitude exuded perfectly describes the complexities and contradictions of life in a big city, where everyone is in contact but seldom interact.
Baulking at categorisation, Sonny provokes emotions
Title track C.E feels more like an incidental excursion in dub sounds and certainly draws you in. The truly standout track is Some Velvet Morning. The track engineered by the talented Rich Costey (Sigur Ros, Santigold, Flying Lotus), begins with a pulsating synth, slowly joined by drums. The track builds into a complex soundscape with the familiar sparse piano keys pulling, holding and releasing. Meanwhile, lush strings simmer in the background finally expanding into a full orchestral arrangement, imbuing the track with a wistful quality. There is a sense of melancholy which Sonny attributes to ‘a confliction of insecurity and self-encouragement’.
In a landscape of electronic music often dominated by obvious choices, it is refreshing to see an artist taking a risk. Baulking at categorisation, Sonny provokes emotions and seeks connections through his musical journeys.