Sonna Smile And The World Smiles With You Review

BBC Review

Post rock outfit team up with uber-producer Steve Albini for their second full-length...

Olli Siebelt 2003

Like a huge steam engine powered train that is just picking up speed, Portland Oregon's excellent Temporary Residence label shows no signs of slowing down as 2003 progresses. With an unrelenting release schedule already seeing albums from Eluvium, Icarus, Lazarus and Cex on the way, this new CD from Sonna is yet another reason to save some cash for another trip to the record store.

Sonna hail from Washington DC and on this second release, we see more of the same low-key, laid back instrumental indie rock that's garnered this band a substantial following both in the US and across Europe.

Reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, an instrumental Yo La Tengo or Tortoise, you can tell this is a band that has an enormous presence when playing live. There is a harmony between each of the instruments here that can only be created after a tight bond is established between bandmembers, no matter how pristine a studio environment they may record in.

The CD opens with "Frone Taj", which sets the scene and hints at the direction we're heading for; beautiful instrumental indie rock with a little twist here, a little turn there. Soon enough, we're deep into it and enjoying every blissful second.

"Open Ended" takes a step back and slows the pace, reminding one of July Skies or Tortoise at half-speed; the drums thick and heavy. while needle like guitar harmonies shine like sunlight reflecting on a deep lake. "Smile" is pure gorgeous ambience, taking a page straight out of the Windy and Carl or Loscil catalogue until another beautiful harmonica melody takes over, bringing the song to another level entirely.

Smile And The World Smiles With You was recorded by Steve Albini and interestingly enough doesn't have the usual Albini trademarks. Yes, it's warm and resonates beautifully (if you're familiar with Albini's genius at recording guitars, you'll know what I mean) but the production is feather light and airy. It's a slightly different sound for Albini, and that just makes the whole CD even better.

While the US indie scene is crowded enough already, Sonna are doing something altogether different, hitting emotions that are rarely touched by most. The band know exactly when to ease off to allow you to sink deep within a track, but just nudge you enough so you don't fall asleep...and all without falling into the usual trap of becoming another My Bloody Valentine or Merzbow clone.

A very lovely, special little record and the perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon.

Highly Recommended.

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