November 6, 2003

Test Spin: So

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Over the last year, I’ve been listening to more electronic music than at any other time in my life, which is a meaningless statement since I never listened to any during my first eighteen years. I think I’ve done a decent job of familiarizing myself with the basics, but there’s still much to learn.

First off, I don’t understand how bands like So make their music at all, other than the fact that it involves laptops. I guess this music would fall under the IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) genre, but no one’s going to be dancing to So anytime soon.

So’s ten tracks — none of which have names — thrive on minimalism, centering around glitches, blips, beeps and any other one-syllable word that sounds like it could be one of these noises. On their own, these characteristics may not seem like anything special, but they come together nicely in the end. So reminded me of some of the more ambient songs on Dntel’s Life is Full of Possibilities. And for you nerds out there (like me), some tracks have little video game sounds built in. That way, on tracks like number 7, you can say, “Hey, that’s from Pac-Man!”

Most of the songs feature vocals from Eriko Toyoda, one half of the So collaborative (the other being Oval member Markus Popp). But unlike the shrill style of the Boredoms and just about every other Japanese female vocalist I’ve ever heard, Toyoda’s voice is quite soothing, complimenting the music well. Although it’s far from your typical college rock, So is an inviting album of experimental electronica, further continuing my digital education.

Archived article by Ross McGowan