4 Nov 2023

Review: Echoes of Home by Sanoi

From The Sampler, 2:30 pm on 4 November 2023

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.


Photo: Loop

A new signee to Loop Recordings, Sanoi has been based in Aotearoa since 2015, originally hailing from Germany. Calling his album Echoes of Home invites a certain reading then, and sure enough, according to the PR, he drew inspiration from Berlin’s house and techno scene.

Maybe it’s due to osmosis then, or wishful listening on my part, that I hear a New Zealand influence in the tunes’ thick clusters of percussion, and warm synth tones.

This album comes with some distinctly chilly artwork: mist-laden hills surrounding a lake. But its music is considerably more sunny, particularly the track we just heard, aptly called ‘Life is Good’. 

‘Together’ begins with bells, and clustered percussion that evokes wave sounds (Germany does have beaches but I associate them more with this country). They build in intensity, playing off the staccato synth stabs, until you’re basically begging for a bassline to drop. Then hey presto, one does.

After spending time in Berlin, it was a thirst for fresh sounds that brought Sanoi (real name Jonas Fischer) to our shores. He made a prior album that channelled emotions he said boiled up during the pandemic, calling it ‘very personal’.

It’s always intriguing when instrumental artists talk about their work this way, but the album’s grasp of harmonic progression speaks for itself. In another interview he says he’s been making electronic music for fifteen years, but only began to understand storytelling in the last five. That’s another interesting way to describe music with no words, but listen to the ways sounds pile up and are pulled back, and you see what he means.

The press for this album emphasises that its tracks have been road-tested in clubs throughout the country, (the implication being that a few years ago that wasn’t possible). Its dynamics - the thump of the kick, the throb of the bass - are legit, but I’m more drawn to the fine details. It’s when you hone into the granular crackles inside a synth note, or the human shuffle of stacked percussion, or the unidentifiable noise that sounds a bit like rain, that Echoes of Home really opens itself up.

‘Mountain Pass’ is another track that, aurally and in its title, could refer to either Germany or Aotearoa. But it’s the blend between the two that I suspect is the point.