Review Summary: Excellent modern electronica-industrial album.
These days, the internet allows you to become a successful independent artist, free of any label contracts and restrains. For some it's a way to reach to major record companies, for others means being free to put out anything they want. That's why searching in the sea of emerging bands, there are some gems like this relatively new project SONOIO.
SONOIO is Alessandro Cortini, ex-Nine Inch Nails keyboard player, Blindoldfreak and ModWheelMood frontman and multi-instrumentalist. If you are familiar with his previous works on either of his bands or NIN's "Ghosts I-IV", you'll know he has an obsession with modular synthesizers. As a result, all the songs on "Red" are based on Buchla synthesizers (especially 200e) and little live instrumentation. The record can be seen more of a lengthy EP, since there are only 7 proper songs and 2 interludes, and the whole album clocks at around 33 minutes. However, cramming in a lot of the same sound, would make it hard to digest.
Overall, the album is a successful mix between his work with ModWheelMood, Depeche Mode-like dense synthesizers (more likely what's found on Playing The Angel) and less Nine Inch Nails (sorry, no raging guitars or aggro rants). The songs are relatively simply built, but each one follows a different pattern, Cortini using walls of sound on tracks like 'Unpredictable', relying on drones over which he adds layers of synths and soundscapes. 'See Yourself', the album's closer, has a marching drum pattern, with distorted vocoded lyrics and a growing background noise. Also, 'As Long As You Make A Sound' shuts down after 2 minutes and takes a NIN 'The Great Destroyer'-like detour, but to a more calculated and organized industrial noise pattern.
The single 'Enough', which is closest to ModWheelMood, is one of the album's highlights, with a big chorus where Alessandro puts a lot of emotion and he ends up pouring his heart out, desperate and angry (Making a scene in the pouring rain/Doesn't make a difference cause I've had enough/ And everything I do today/Nothing gets done cause it's not enough/And I've had enough of everything/Tried to make it right and I'm wrong again/I'm afraid of everything/Everything's out cause I've had enough). The song also builds to a multi-layered sonic attack towards the end, making it the most accomplished song on "Red".
On the other hand, 'Scientist', a song about desperation and going insane, is another highlight. With a drum pattern that sounds like hitting PVC tubes and industrial soundscapes in the background and a wall of sound that at one point covers the music and lyrics, the song really manages to create the visuals and atmosphere he sings about.
The thing that keeps each track friendly is the pop sensibility and Alessandro's melodic, high pitched voice, which recalls a more confident and alive version of Thom Yorke. It fits the mood and the themes he explores throughout the record. Each track talks about being an outsider, loneliness or insanity, and his voice makes him sound almost humble and all by himself behind everything.
"Red" sounds fresh and different. It has a lot of great moments and the fact that is shorter, makes it even better. The geek bundle comes with a SuONOIO custom synthesizer that has synths and soundscapes similar to the ones used on the record, so that you can create your own music with it.