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Sonic Space Lab - Album Review: Cycles

20 Jul 2022 // A review by JamieDenton

Sonic Space Lab is the musical pseudonym of Dunedin-based, Venezuelan composer and sound engineer Luis Rodriguez, who some may know from his guitar work in Dunedin’s Tomahawk Radio. Having spent more than 20 years writing music for television, film, and advertising and collaborating with countless musicians in both musician and producer roles, Luiz Rodriguez turned his hand to Sonic Space Lab (also the name of his studio) in the mid-late 2010’s. This latest album, entitled Cycles, follows up two previous EPs (2018’s Changing Times and 2020’s Up In The Air) and the 2021 ambient release Interrelated Earth which stemmed from his involvement in writing the music for a short documentary. Cycles is described, by Luis, as “techno music for the soul” as it “reflects on the ups and downs that we all face through life”.

Powerfully emotive opener, Through the Waves, clearly signals that this will not just be a stock-standard ride through throwaway electronica/dance tracks. Following an attention-grabbing into-section, the track progresses along into a second main section which, akin to the waves indicated in the title, playfully surges forward and retreats, providing a sonic representation that reminds me of waves pushing up onto the beach and then rushing back into the ocean, or a timid child/animal taking a step forward to test the environment and then shyly retreating. As the beat and a more frenetic keyboard line are reintroduced, the overall energy of the track builds back to more familiar territory, which is bound to fill the dance floor with sweaty bodies in no time. This is a fascinating track, as the first casual listen didn’t reveal the level of complexity within the track. There are numerous musical changes occurring, but they are happening so seamlessly that it takes a very active listen to pick them all up. The smooth transition into the next track is also fantastic to hear, as it retains the energy built, allowing the next song to capitalise on what came before.

The one-two punch of Before The Hit and Waiting For The Fall are two of the shortest songs on the album (with the exception of late-album lynchpin And Then The Sun Rises with its minimal 1 minute 33 second run time) but serve as key cornerstones. Before The Hit begins with a soaring, icy synth that hints at the potential for the creation of a dark ambient soundscape. However, the hypnotic beat and keyboard pad take over the track, breaking those hints, and leading us gently towards a more futuristic, cinematic vision. A sense of familiarity resides in these tracks, a comfort, but also a vague tinge of longing and loss.

Other highlights (for me) through this album are the upbeat All New Self with its morse-code-esque intro, which continues as a theme through much of the track, the kinetic Breath, and the lush, confident Ripples.

The overall sound of this instrumental, synth and keyboard-heavy album is crisp, clear, and beautifully mixed. There is ample separation between instrumental layers and a richness there to bring the listener new sounds to discover with multiple listens. This album will serve wonderfully as both gentle background music to a relaxed evening and as the soundtrack to a big night.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Sonic Space Lab

Sonic Space Lab is the studio project of music producer Luis Rod. Based in Dunedin, but originally from Caracas, Venezuela.

Stablished musician back in his country, Luis started to make a name for himself within part of the music community in Dunedin with his Latin Band "Plastico" and as a composer for different audiovisual mediums.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sonic Space Lab


Year: 2022
Type: Album
Interrelated Earth
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Up In The Air
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Changing Times
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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