The word Sonder – created by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and propagated on Tumblr far and wide – might not be a ‘real’ word, but the sentiment behind it is still sweet. Said to mean, “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”, it seems an apt moniker for the alternative R&B trio by the same name, whose debut EP, “Into”, serves a deep and ambient gaze into the lives of the artists behind it.
Sonder is composed of producers Atu and Dpat, along with vocalist Brent Faiyaz, who told The FADER, “’Into’ is a reflection of shit that my ego won’t allow me to speak on in everyday conversation. It’s everything from relationships with women and family to living too fast.” This range of themes and emotions is palpable throughout the project, brought to life by Brent’s crystalline voice and the vast, fluid production underneath. Brimming with spotless guitars and ghostly backing vocals, the instrumentals of “Into” are hugely complex, often undergoing change within each song, especially on “Too Fast” and “Feel”.
Sonder‘s “Into Ep” is a good debut that manages to work both as a fluid front to back listen and a collection of solid standalone tracks simultaneously.
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For how cavernous the “Into EP” can be, it’s surprising how many acutely memorable melodies there are to take away from it. Choruses like those of “Lovely” and “Sirens”, with obliquely heartfelt lines like “I almost fell in love with you after the club last night” and “If I closed the door and shut my mouth, how would it be right now?”, are almost designed to echo in your head. Beyond that, one of this debut’s greatest strengths is the way it manages to work both as a fluid front to back listen and a collection of solid standalone tracks simultaneously.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/304821031″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Where ‘Into’ suffers is similar to where it thrives. This is a project that lets you get lost in wide open spaces – with long instrumental breaks and passages of vocal riffing – for better or worse. There is a thin line between careless floating and aimless drifting, and ‘Into” treads it at times. Aside from that, the most unfavorable things that can be said about the EP is that “Baldwin Park” makes for a lackluster instrumental break, “Lovely” was recycled from Brent Faiyaz’s “A.M. Paradox” EP, and that the smooth talking here can be a bit too smooth at times.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/304821039″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
When I first heard “Too Fast” in 2016, images of a revolutionized R&B landscape led by Sonder and devoid of generic, dark trap beats and autotune flashed through my head. In the end though, “Into” is not a revolution, but a beautiful step in a direction that’s both progressive and in touch with its roots.
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