Artist: A Day Without Speaking
Title: 6 Sonatine
Label: Deep Lake Records
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Ah, sonatine! A sonatine/sonatina is a “small” sonata, basically shorter than a sonata though a few you will find are “small” for being lighter in tone. The form takes me back to the days when I was miserably young and enrolled in school. I was an alto saxophonist at that time and performed a solo for Solo/Ensemble, which is this scholarly, academic contest that young, promising, prodigal students of music occasionally opt or are encouraged to enter. It seemed something usually the prestige of those who attended private schools, but in my brief time there I was like this darkhorse that rode in on sheer, barely cultivated talent, from the public education system with moderate tutoring. Those who participate spend long weeks beforehand practicing to perform either a solo or an ensemble, as you likely had guessed, and are then critiqued and rated by expert judges in order to gain an advantageous insight into areas they might need to improve upon. Or, for those of us with inflated egos — most saxophone players, I will tell you — the whole thing was about attaining high marks for nerdy and glorious bragging rights. I performed a pretty standard piece really, a ‘Sonatina’ based on Haydn’s ‘Trio V’. Got perfect marks on that one. B) Of course, this album is nothing like that amateurish shit. It’s actually quite nice, modern, listenable! I think I’ll tell you about it…
… for instance, it begins with ‘Sonatina N. 1 (Anestesia)’, starting off with a deep, low throb of a kick drum and adding these lovely chord pads. It has the feel of maybe deep house, somewhat jazzy lofi 3AM soundtrack for laying in bed watching the shadows move outside your window while smoking a cigarette and hoping to maybe, eventually pass out, the world and all it’s happenings weighing on your mind. Electric piano comes in, really subtle, mostly adding dark energy and, yet, love. Brightness seems to be swirling up from out of the corners of the mix, twixt feedback. Very nice, putting me in a mood that I can’t wait to hear whatever will come next.
The next track is ‘Sonatina N. 2 (BREAK!)’, and it’s got an updraft of synth chords which are then joined by some speedy drums that are actually pretty soft. I hear a synthetic guitar riff come in, as well as a vocal sample of someone saying “break!” repeatedly. Then it’s like a hyper, softly mixed breakbeat goes off. Then there’s a breakdown with some really nice, melodic sounds that seem almost like midi samples. The mixing/mastering isn’t exactly where I might have wanted it to be, but that doesn’t totally detract at all from the experience and manic energy of this track.
Afterward is ‘Sonatina N. 3 (Epilexia)’… I hear some more low, feedback pad, like a melodic radiator in a cheap hotel; I can almost taste the bitter, watery coffee, feel the styrofoam against my fingers. An insomnia-scape plays, serene and solitary, lovely. I’m enjoying this track a lot. A swell of synth strings come upon us, and I really love the harmonies… melancholy but cosmic and passionate. I almost teared up just now, at about 2:54 in, but I have to remain stoic, otherwise I’ll just feel too silly. It ends with feedback, very nice.
Then, ‘Sonatina N. 4 (Marzo)’ is very quiet at first. I hear crickets… then the space is made meditative by ambient waves of chords. So pretty! I hear a lot of interesting sounds come in, echo for a moment and disappear. A tiny raindrop of a conga type percussive noise, a rhythmically filtered string. Then, everything drops away to be replaced with ultra-sensual chords. There’s this suave, sexy rhythm, like smooth rhythm and blues for late night neon affairs. Bright digi leads come in… wow, that was really nice!
‘Sonatina N. 5 (La Campanella)’ comes unexpectedly with a 4/4 909 groove. A peculiar, textured sequence swells up and then disappears. Then really chill pad chords strike, a bassline comes in, then, another wild twist, the melodies go into a kind of strange neo-classical direction. These then quickly drop away… this track changes it up a lot, filling the gaps left any time one arrangement of melodies fades with different arrangements, many of which sound like you’re having strange dreams of Wendy Carlos writing house music. The mood seems to alternate between dark and light with a definite focus on the latter. Very intriguing. There’s a wild section toward the end, like the most bizarre blend of legitimately oldschool Moog music with dry, unobtrusive production with a style of programming that says modern hardcore. It’s partly a wtf moment but also very genius in it’s originality, doing something that I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone do before.
The final piece, ‘Sonatina N. 6 (Non Sentire Più)’, begins with an unfolding piano. Click rhythms come in, like rims under a low frequency filter. Drums enter, as well as some really nice, floating leads! I love the sound of those, very much like flight. It breaks it down to the sole piano again for a bit, and then everything returns. The synths are very evocative, romantic. Computer trickle out into the vastness of space, and the album ends.
This was a fun trip for me, a large part nostalgia and a large part modern romance, with a lot of nice sounds and a prettiness to the compositions that makes it hugely endearing, despite that I felt in a few places that the mastering seemed to be a little lackluster, not doing the music as much justice as it could have. I guess that’s the sign of really nice music though, sometimes, is that it is capable of outshining things like that. For the most part, though, everything seemed in accord… so I’ll have to recommend you check it out. Where? At the link below, of course!