Sofalofa: Mellifluous

Inspired by the birth of his two children, Chris Cousin's SofaLofa debut album exudes an entirely appropriate ambiance of innocent sparkle. His preference for subtlety over bombast doesn't translate into music devoid of interest, however; if anything, the restrained approach makes the material more inviting. Even when veering into the darker electro regions of “Counterbalance,” Cousin keeps the music at a controlled broil rather than let it messily explode.

At times reminiscent of Plaid (the off-beat melody in “Shelf Shelving Shelf” in particular reveals the group's influence) and The Remote Viewer, Sofalofa's sound is clean and uncluttered yet brimming with captivating detail, like the gleaming glass orchestra tones he conjures in the becalmed lullaby “Mellifluous.” The impression left is that every sound has a distinct purpose. Though the bright gamelan chimes and clicking funk beats in “Florence” respectively originate from an infant's mobile and micro-snippets of a baby's voice, Cousin does nothing to draw attention to the fact, instead keeping the focus on the musical character of the material. In “Plinky Plonk,” minimal vibes melodies literally plink and plonk over a swinging pulse while a simple piano melody floats through a billowing stream of funky pulses and synth bass in “Contact.” With deep cello bowing intersecting with unusual buzzing and reverberant electronic thrum, “Merrygoround” sounds anything but carefree. Ambient meditations (“Packdressdance,” “Ms Fortune”) and soundscapes of burbling textures (“Rain”) can also be heard on this splendid release.

February 2006