Review Summary: Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I too shall be late!
One of the many beautiful things about music are the plethora of circumstances in which certain albums fit perfectly. People have go-to albums for driving, break-ups, anger management, even working out. I find that Sonic Within
has a pretty broad spectrum in which its music is best conveyed, nighttime. The ambiance created by Iranian sound composer Ata Ebtekar mixed with the piano-driven melodies of Mazdak Khamda creates a serene, dreamy and sometimes strange concoction that, if given the proper attention, will have your imagination not exactly running wild, but at least drifting aimlessly wild.
With meticulous and measured piano playing from Khamda driving the record from beginning towards some ambivalent conclusion, and Ebtekar’s beautifully space-y, and often weird effects swirling feverishly throughout, Sonic Within
has a definite and conspicuous mood and feeling it’s trying to convey. Many of the songs follow a similar but simple progression, a propulsive piano melody with a thick haze of the ambient. However a simple progression shouldn’t be confused as derivative or boring as this thick haze of ambiance is really what makes Sonic Within
. Ebtekar’s obvious skill in creating diverse soundscapes to compliment an instrument as intrinsically soothing as the piano is highlighted at many points throughout the album’s runtime. The smooth transitions and repeated fluctuations of the calm and the crazy really give the songs of Sonic Within
this pervading “Alice In Wonderland” kind of feel where, with the piano as the guide, you are lead through minutes of dreamy serenity and bouts of strange, off-kilter instrumentals and back again. “Detached From Source” is probably the most apt example of this dichotomy, as it punctuates its introduction of piano and hollow, almost wind-swept sounding electronics with a loud cacophony of percussion that can best be described as going “boing boing boing.” Weird, yes but strangely effective. The duo employ a number of original sounds into their classical core from the mechanical crickets heard in “Cradle Song” to the rain-soaked alarm clock samples and in the album highlight “Word of Farewell.”
Running at around the 30 minute mark, Sonic Within
doesn’t take up a lot of your time but still packs as much density and emotion as an album twice as long. The idea itself, piano driven classical compositions with ambient backdrops, doesn’t seem so original but the execution of this idea is what makes Sonic Within
special. Ebtekar and Khamda’s chemistry is plainly evident and every haunting passage, every beautiful interlude, and every weird ass sound you hear was painstakingly placed in its place to have the listener get lost in its dense wall of sound. The aforementioned affinity I have for nighttime listening is based on the way this album utilizes these moods. This record definitely has its own niche but people who are even remotely interested in ambient and neo-classical music will find a lot to enjoy here.