Sonna - Keep It Together - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sonna - Keep It Together

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2016-08-11

Baltimore’s beloved snorecore specialists Sonna only existed for five years straddling the turn of the last decade, but the two albums and numerous flotsam and jetsam they released in the form of EPs, split singles, and collaborations stand tall in snorecore lore as amongst the best the genre offered. This 2xLP set collects almost everything that wasn’t on their LPs (it’s missing their collaborative efforts with like-minded snoozers Sybarite and Lilienthal) – thus the rather punny title. The three untitled tracks that make up their debut CD EP “These Windows Are Pistons” set the scene for the laidback, guitar-driven postrock tunes that follow. Shades of Joan of Arc, Windsor for The Derby, Tortoise, Labradford, and Tarentel abound, in the latter instance via the shared personage of drummer Jim Redd. The fifteen minutes are sublime guitar lines tippy-toing around melodic bass and somewhat aggressive drumming to provide a smooth soundtrack for a good lie down or swing in the Hammock (pun intended).

Their half of the split with Paul Newman (the band, you silly thing) teaches you the “Way To Breathe No Breath’ and it’s as hesitant, deliberate, and cautious as an instruction manual for something that most lawyers would probably tell you not to try at home. Listening, and loving it, is another matter entirely. Just sit back and float and leave the breathing to them.

A one-off single on Static Caravan in 2000 yielded the pleasantly syncopated jazzy pop of ‘Kept Luminesce” c/w “Mirameko”. The former adds delicate vocals to the crystalline guitar notes, while Redd’s prominent drum patterns jostle for position with strident guitar pluckings. A second guitar wakes the kids sleeping in the next room with a touch of fuzzy pluck und drang. And don’t you just love these nonsensical titles! So evocative of the nothingness that permeates these recordings. A nothingness that takes everything to create yet seems so lifeless, like the air that we breathe.

Their untitled, 20-minute, three track “The Eventual Bow” EP was the sixth entry in Temporary Residence’s Travels In Constants series which virtually defined math rock as a post rock subgenre (even its name has mathematical references), and this is one of the strongest entries in the series – meticulously arranged and played, while seemingly controlled by formulaic precision as to note placement, chord changes, timing, and organized, chaotic improvisation. Think of it as the musical equivalent of Dogme 95. [Trainspotters may be surprised to learn that Temporary Residence label head Jeremy DeVine was one of the band’s guitarists, so there was certainly no shortage of opportunity to get their music released!]

Closing with, what else, “The Closer”, their final recording (and contribution to Temporary Residence’s Thank You compilation, commemorating the label’s 50th release), the band hit their most ambient stride – a stunning floater that says goodbye with a heartfelt twinkle as the stars burn out and the sky explodes in a haze of glory. Thanks for the memories, guys.

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