Sontag Shogun – Tale (Luau Records)
The Brooklyn experimental trio Sontag Shogun release their debut album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates is impressed.
Before we start, let’s just call this album beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Three years in the making Sontag Shogun have created something so gorgeous and luscious that it’s a stunning aural delight. A largely instrumental album, Tale uses grand piano, oscillators and a nepenenoyka harp (no, me neither) to produce soundscapes that are pitch perfect, semi-ambient explorations in a quite stunning sound. To be honest, there have been several times when I’ve started writing this review but ended up just listening to the album. Again.
Recorded while the trio were based in separate locations around the world, Tale evokes senses of loneliness in locations that can be interpreted only by the listener. Maybe a trip with a crew of a fishing trawler or a solemn walk across bare, misty, countryside the album’s ability to transport you and transfix you elsewhere is unique.
There will be comparisons to Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow, and it’s completely justified. Timeless, spacious and the work of genius, it wistfully glides from track to track in an effortless swirl of breathtaking ease. The Musk Ox is simply delightful.
Various sound recordings of voices and noises are subtly included which add to the overall mystique of the album as they seem to serve no logical purpose but to add texture and character to every one. Hungarian Wheat is stunning and conjures up memories of Michael Nyman’s soundtrack for The Piano. A track jam-packed with simplicity.
Heavily influenced by the likes of Philip Glass and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sontag Shogun blend both the modern classical with gentle ambience. Orbit Insertion takes us into outer space, whilst Beyond Wynd Gey goes anywhere your imagination will allow.
There are no boundaries with Tale – “they make music to dream away to, or from”. A quite exquisite album of wonderful emptiness.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.