Sonogram (Todd Gautreau) should be commended for realizing music that lasts only as long as its founding idea. Each of the 21 tracks on Substrates (66'55") are short, one to four minutes each and consist of an elemental idea which unfolds over the course of the composition. Instead of needlessly stretching the work out for several minutes, Gautreau chooses to present a two-minute idea in the space of two minutes. The content of this album ranges from pieces based on industrial drones and process music to amorphous ambient drift to the harmonized composition of melodious keyboard lines. It's an album of gentle, thoughtful songs. The music on Substrates encompasses the extent of this artist's early Ambient works. Presented seemingly in no order, the listener explores the foundation of Sonogram's music. As the album plays, and fades into the fabric of the listening space, it becomes difficult to gain anything more than a vague familiarity with individual tracks. While quite different from one another, the transitions between tone and mood go unnoticed. Even the few seconds of silence between tracks, rather than disrupting transitions, takes on an interstitial quality essential to the experience. Along with electronically produced music, the sounds of surf, dream voices, playground sounds and odd, unidentifiable samples work their way into the album at unpredictable moments and add to the feeling of ambiguity. Substrates is masterfully simple, less collection than reflection.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 24 Februray 2005
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