I’m writing this on a Monday morning. The sun is out, the breeze is refreshing, and I’ve just returned from breakfast with friends. I’m wearing a new blue t-shirt that reads, “Life Isn’t Easy ~ Life Isn’t Perfect ~ Life Is Good.” The music wraps a bow around the morning, collecting the colors as they appear.
One of the blessings of reviewing is being able to hear music before it is released. Somni‘s Bloom has been rocking my home and car all summer, and this month, the rest of the world will be able to hear it. From cover art to internal rhythm, Bloom is the look and sound of summer: the open road, the ocean breeze, the sand, the surf, the love. To listen is to soak in an array of positive feelings, from comfort to ebullience.
Somni’s closest sonic relative is probably Jilk, but for a closer comparison one might consider Botany’s 2013 album Lava Diviner (Truestory). Like Bloom, that album features a blend of hip-hop, groove and sample in a non-stop mix. While one might draw out particular tracks (two of which have already been released as singles), Bloom is best listened to as a whole, with nothing to interrupt the flow. In an era of Spotify playlists, it’s refreshing to hear an album that is already a mixtape. The only break arrives between tracks six and seven (time to flip it!).
The track titles are indicative of the mood: “Tranquil,” “Crickets,” “Spaces,” “The Air Outside.” From the first notes, one gets the message: get off the couch, go enjoy the day. As a resident of San Francisco, Somni is used to beautiful weather; but weather can also be a state of mind. By cherry-picking sounds associated with happiness (whistling, waves, wind chimes), the artist paints an aural picture to match the cover collage. The sound of a clock in “Overgrown” is a reminder that time is limited; the inclusion may remind some of recent hits by Zedd, but the integration is more elaborate. The acoustic density is evident in the variety of instruments used, from harp to acoustic guitar. As “Overgrown” gives way to “Spaces” (my favorite track), the word “summer” rides gently over the sounds of the great outdoors.
Bloom is encouraging and upbeat, with a high replay value. Leo Shulman (Somni) calls it “a love letter to the music of his life.” If you’re looking for the perfect summer album, this is it. (Richard Allen)