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  • At times floating out of the æther with the familiarity of forgotten Sunday mornings—while at others pounding out textured, thumping pop—the sound of Sonoi might be difficult to describe, but that’s precisely what makes it so appealing. While it might seem unexpected that Sonoi has hit upon such a winning sound in less than two years, given the background of the group’s members it’s no surprise at all.

    Adam Busch (Guitars and Vocals) and Ryan Hembrey (Bass guitar and Keyboards) are both veterans of the Chicago rock scene. Busch is best known for his group Manishevitz and their reformulation of English art-pop on such albums as City Life (2003) and East to East (2007). Hembrey, whose tenure in Manishevitz began in 2000, has also recorded and played with Edith Frost, Andrew Bird, and Smog. Relative newcomer Pierce Doerr, whose compositions have been featured on This American Life, rounds out the trio on drums.

    While the echoes of these past projects shine through in much of their work, what’s most exciting is the depth of the sonic palette. This depth is evident in a song like “Sherry Fall.” It starts off a straight-ahead pop song, punctuated by Busch’s evocative phrasing, but in minutes transforms into a near motorik groove. Like many Sonoi songs, it makes one believe in pop music again. Even more adventurous is “Framed.” Drifting into view with hovering guitar, lazy horns, and scattered snare drum, the song eventually meets up some sparse lyrical imagery before flute and horns quietly come to the fore, beautifully sketching the edges of a day lost to time. Wandering in the textures of sound and non-redundant repetition, new discoveries in these songs are constantly made. One can hear traces of some of Cluster’s more pastoral work (especially Sowiesoso).

    Starting as a collaborative recording project in late 2006 between Busch and Doerr, the then-unnamed group was joined by Hembrey a little less than a year later. Sonoi made its live debut in February 2008 at the Hideout (Chicago). Despite only operating as a live band for a little over six months, Sonoi have already shared the stage with The New Year, avant-folk leading lights MV & EE and legendary Czech rockers The Plastic People of the Universe.

    Sonoi 1 & 2 were released together in January 2009. Engineered, produced, and featuring contributions by former Chicagoan Michael Krassner (Boxhead Ensemble).

    For more information about upcoming Sonoi shows and for video and audio samples of their music visit http://www.myspace.com/sonoimusic

Richard Pryor. Photo: Baptiste Pons. CC: BY-NC-ND

Sonoi Richard Pryor

"The song is actually rooted in an early Gospel-era Staple Singers recording. We had Nate Lepine listen to that chord progression (which on the Staple Singers recording is performed acapella). We then recorded him playing the progression on saxophone, layering several tracks to make the chords. We used this progression for the song base, but tried to abstract as much as possible, the overdubs we'd lay down around it. We didn't want to take the song too seriously, but there was a real heaviness in that chord progression that contrasted with the whimsical approach we were taking with the overdubs. The song seemed to get more interesting the more we tried to stretch that contrast."

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  • Richard Pryor (1940 – 2005) was a groundbreaking American comedian, actor and writer.
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