Sonori by SonoriRelease date: November 20, 2017
For many the Linn LM-1 drum computer signalled the end of the world. The journey through Hi-NRG to mainstream synthpop and the emergence of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman production line shattered the reputation of the synth that the pioneers had worked so hard to establish. Even New Order couldn’t save it, and there were few tears when grunge toppled Kylie and Jason from the charts.
All that really meant was that for the most part sequencers got very good at being chameleons or at least sitting in the background. But in more recent times others have decided to hit refresh and explore the sound of ‘80s synthesizers without copying ‘80s synth sound.
Take Sonori, for example, who reside in the majestic Blue Mountains a couple of hours West of Sydney. Imagine you’ve never heard ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’ (yes I realise I just said “don’t think of an elephant”), and instead think of the world not as a display home made to fit all fashion at a moment in time, but a collection of beautiful elements of different eras that were never designed to be together, but complement each other perfectly.
Cello, vocals, bass and guitar stretch back from the 1950s, through the 1500s, to the first music humans made. And sitting proudly with them are relics from the 1980s that ignore what horrors were committed in their names, and show how beautiful it all could have been.
You know the films where some loveable thief pulls together an outfit for one special heist and they all have different backgrounds and skills? That’s how I think of Sonori. Except things went so well after the first heist that they got another expert in, came up with a name and a signature look, and now roam where the bushrangers once did.
Their five track self-titled debut (really four plus remix) is without lyrical vocals on two songs, no doubt reflecting the initial make-up of the band as a trio, but which does feel odd given the impact brought by the astonishing voice of Lulu Levins-Skehill.
In some ways it’s dreamy, landscape music, but the best way to see how it differs from more typical cinematic bands is in their cover of ‘Time’ by Hans Zimmer from the film Inception. The overt inclusion of pre-midi electronics is almost cheeky, as though it transported that film back 30 years. Similarly their cover of ‘The Sky Was Pink’ by Nathan Fake gives it a new feel that you only get from a genuine cover rather than a remix. In the original the drums are meant to sound like drums – Sonori are happy for the beat to be overtly drum machine.
But really it’s Vanity and I Wade that showcase the full range of skill, love of music, and attention to detail, and, one would hope, point to the future for this quartet. The seeds have been sown.