- by Ljubinko Zivkovic Release Date:2017-03-24 Label: Self Released
Wondering what Sono Oto stands for? Sounds Japanese? Could be, but in this case not. Maybe a crooked version of the Italian phrase meaning “I’m Oto”? Another possibility, again another no.
If interested, to find out you would probably have to ask Mark Henry Phillips, a producer and sound designer who under his “regular” name has worked on a number of TV series and films ( wrote the score for “Serial” and worked on “Cutie”). But, “Sono Oto” seems to be his pet project and the “band name” under which it took him over six years to come up with this first album, “Inheritance”.
With the album title, there is less guessing. It could be the lighter collection on the cover, but also the ‘lighter’ music that served as inspiration for the presented songs. And the results?
To be frank, somewhat infuriating. The album starts very promisingly with “Take You Time” just a good, modern pop tune that blends all its influences skilfully together/ “Now You Know” brings in the element of Sixties soul and raises the quality level one notch up. “A Way to Stay Away” tells us what Phillips inherited from “Friends” era Beach Boys and how to use drum machines in a tasteful manner. “Lies” usher in CSNY harmonies and pedal steel, and “No Idea” remains in the Seventies ‘inheritance’ with 10cc touches.
Announcing this album, pre-reviewers talked about Beatles-y influences, and in that respect “10,000 Hours” and “How Do You Feel” do both McCartney and Lennon proud without going into copycat territory. “Didn’t Have The Time” does, though, as you might think the intro is taking us to “Don’t Let Me Down”.
This could be intentional, though, (apologies then), since the next tune “Caroline” just misses that “No” to be something Brian Wilson forgot in the vaults when recording “Pet Sounds”.
So what is infuriating then? It is the two closers, “Pick One and Choose” and “Wait For Me”. The former is probably the weakest number here, sounding melodically quite half-baked and a good arrangement doesn’t save it either. The latter, has both, a better melody and a better arrangement, but is still not up to the par with the rest of the album.
Maybe “Wait For Me “ is a message to the listeners that Phillips is up to much better things. The foundation for hope is given here. Just hoping it does not take him another six years and that he comes up with a truly great one he shows glimpses of here.