Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Sonarpilot's epic-length techno album produces astounding results

May 5, 2010

Sonarpilot‘s Mothership is easily one of the most ambitious albums I’ve ever heard. It’s ambitious in its two-hour-plus running length, which sprawls over two CDs. Furthering its ambitions, there are only eleven songs in 120+ minutes. That’s an average of over ten minutes per song, with some going much longer than that. Standout track “First Contact” is three seconds shy of being twenty-three minutes of techno. There is nothing concise about the songs on Mothership.

But that’s okay, because the songs are good. Somehow, “First Contact” doesn’t sound repetitive or forced. In fact, none of the tracks feel uncomfortable or hyper-extended. Sonarpilot’s deft control of mood and refusal to put stomping house beats to their music makes the listening of the album more of an ebb and flow than a rave.

That’s not to say there aren’t upbeat moments that are fit for the dance floor. There definitely are. But the overall feel of the album is much subtler than a Cascada song. With the exception of the gimmicky “Celtic Lounge,” the album is carefully constructed to avoid cliches and vapid fluff. I know that sounds seemingly impossible on a two-hour double CD (which would probably be an octuple vinyl or something), but it honestly goes really quickly. It’s like listening to Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space with no vocals and less angst.

It’s hard to point out particular tracks as winners when there’s so much contained in a single track. But the stuttering melodic percussion of “Ripples” provides a great contrast to the mellow synths and clicking beats that so characterize the rest of the pieces. “First Contact” is a concept song (first time I’ve ever written that phrase) about a space journey that’s extremely well-done. “Desert Song” has some nice rhythms as well, hitting the ear nicely.

I’m not a big fan of techno music that doesn’t have monster synths, stomping beats and hooks. But Sonarpilot is so good at their craft that they hooked me into two hours of their music. If Mothership is this incredibly enjoyable for those who have a distaste for the genre, I can only imagine the effect it will have on those who love the genre. These techno grooves are solid, melodic, and extremely well-crafted. Highly recommended.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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