27 May 2019
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Sonic Delusion - Album Review: This Material World

12 Jun 2017 // A review by Peter-James Dries

‘Tis the wrong season for Sonic Delusion’s new album, and it is definitely far too early for funk and calypso. Or it was as I trudged up and down those hills on the way to work on that, albeit mild, winter Wellington morning, This Material World in my ears.  

Jimmy Buffett may be able to double barrel pina coladas in an escape from pterosaurs, but it would be hard for me to handle even one, considering this hills incline, and the numbness in my hands. That and eight hours of employment ahead of me… But a pina colada would the perfect wine matching to this album. A pina colada and some god damn sunshine.

The Spanish guitar mid-album was good though, the pace matching my reluctant steps, the soulful licks wandering like my mind to the many things I’d rather be doing, the places I’d rather be than working. Maybe Spain. It’s summer there now. Although, I don’t speak Spanish. But I’m pretty sure that was a line from Espanol…   

Then it was back to the happy, upbeat music and I was through the bushwalk and back into the wind and the constant buzzing of the hive on their morning commute.

But now, in an office in the central heated hospital, at a decent hour (translation: two coffees in), enjoying the amenities the destruction of our natural environment kindly supplied, I can appreciate the music more.

Soulful. Happy. Upbeat.

Those positive adjectives used earlier are apt description of This Material World as a whole. I lack the back catalogue in the collection that must have influenced this work, but I can tell you it’s nothing you’d find around here, and in the way that makes it a perfect Wellington album. Obscure and different, with a modern use of brass instruments. Perhaps an analogy could be the The Black Seeds, or Fly My Pretties.

I’ve read Sonic Delusion describe themselves as too funky for folk. That’s not entirely true. Sure there’s funk on this album, not like any funk you’ve ever heard, there’s even a touch or two of jazz, but I can still see the folk shining through. It’s in the strum. It’s in the mastering. It’s in the tone. It’s in thought out, meaningful lyrics in a world where intelligence is out of vogue.

This is the work of an artist in isolation. Not afraid to diversify beyond genres. Confident in their own sound, Kiwi accent intact and all. Not swayed by the electronic noise that constitutes pop today, or the Rap and Rock that has been relegated back to alternative. It’s a niche sound, but that’s what folk is.

Soulful. Happy. Upbeat.    

Those that know me personally, perhaps even those that have read my ramblings can infer, those positive adjectives above don’t often refer to me. This makes the standout tracks for me, at least the tracks I can relate to, the slower, more pensive tracks Remote, the previously mentioned Espanol and Words and Strings.

Words and Strings especially. Perhaps it’s intended as a more obscure metaphor than I’ve read into it, but the song reminded me of misguided advice I’d received in the past during an attempt at a one man band myself.

Soulful. Happy. Upbeat.

On the surface. But there is something deeper here. A message I can't quite discern from behind this cigarette, typing on this cellphone, between these buildings that were once a forest on a hill. Maybe that's the point. Spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down and all. Soulful, happy and upbeat to mask a message about the destruction this species creates. After all, those blunt eco-friendly messages, those child poverty adverts that are direct and in your face are so easily forgotten once the ad break is over and that microwave meal with a side of Shortland Street has numbed you back into slumber. 

So who to recommend this album to? If you like pop, this probably isn’t for you. If you are looking for something different, and don’t associate with those caught in the brain drain of valuing sensationalism over discussion and intelligence. If you’re sitting in the sunshine with a fruity cocktail; this is probably the album for you.

You can find This Material World on Spotify, and likely Bandcamp and Soundcloud in time. Just to cover all your streaming preferences. Also there’s still time to catch Sonic Delusion live on the This Material World release tour. Check the Sonic Delusion website for more details.

 

About Sonic Delusion

Too funky for folk and too folky for funk - that's Sonic Delusion's Latin-infused, pop-laced, funky, electroacoustic folk. A vibrant, high-energy live performer, Sonic Delusion (Andre Manella) blends dynamic layers of rhythm, tones, bass lines and vocals, carving out “his own unapologetically ambitious and intriguingly experimental sound” (NZ Musician).

The New Zealand-based Swiss-Kiwi is one of the original one man banders; he has been looping for over ten years and still digs the challenge of building up a song in front of a live audience. He loves to exploit dynamics in a live scenario, stoking the groove with funky bass or beats to really get the audience going . Sonic Delusion’s uniquely upbeat, funky folk is full of irresistible atmospheric joy; even scorching Aussie temperatures of 47 degrees couldn’t keep people from dancing!

Sonic Delusion kicked off his touring career in 2013 with an epic 9-month, 70-venue tour of New Zealand, and now has over 500 gigs in New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Germany, several international festivals under his belt. He’s also known for his unorthodox gig venues, having played concerts from a purpose-built stage on the roof of his family’s housebus, a shop roof, a lake, and at auctioned gigs in lounges around the country.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sonic Delusion

Releases

This Material World
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Without Warning
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Open Your Eyes
Year: 2013
Type: Album
+ or -
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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