The Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) writes, “There’s no denying that Sonmi’s ethereal creations fall within the realm of electronic music. However, the band translates those delicately layered landscapes into live drums, guitars and synth for a space-worthy show that retains the performance element often lost by its peers…This band’s instrumental prowess and carefully crafted atmospheres can hang with any rock show…”
Sonmi is based in the funky, artist-laden city of Asheville NC, which is also home of one of music’s most innovative musical creators, Bob Moog. Sonmi consistently explores the delicate balance between natural humanism and the harder side of modern technology in their compositions. Initially formed in the winter of 2006, the IDM/post-rock/experimental band Sonmi began as three individually experienced young musicians reaching for the outskirts of their musical comfort zones. Early Sonmi tracks were comprised of electronic ideas of each member, brought to the group and expanded upon by the whole. The intricacies in their songwriting can be traced back to the individual band members and their musical backgrounds. After first sitting down at a piano at the young age of 7, Michael McBride (aka Peripheral – keyboards, samples, electronics) became fascinated with the endless boundaries of electronic music from first hearing artists like Prefuse 73 and Boards of Canada. With a BA in music education and a minor in percussion performance, drummer David Mathes (drums, electronics) has mastered an impressive variety of percussion instruments, as well as performed with with Drum Corps International as a World Finalist. After hearing bands such as M83, Boards of Canada, and Aphex Twin, he also studied electronic composition and synth design. Coming from both a father and a brother who played guitar, Robert Garmhausen (guitar, synth) studied piano and later became intrigued with the guitar sounds of indie and post-rock bands such as The Cancer Conspiracy and The Appleseed Cast. As the newest member, Nigel Gilmer (bass, synth) was entrenched in an aggressive solo project that featured live loops, bass, synth and djembe where he utilized complex rhythms and was inspired by such artists as King Crimson, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Jon Hopkins. The focus of Sonmi has been to marry the chemistry of the live musicianship with electronic programming and synths, and to challenge the lines between human performance and technology. Striving to break out of the sequencing trend and live up to the demanding presence of being a live band, they focused on the live show and aimed to capture that chemistry in the studio. In 2012, six years, an unreleased EP, and a member stronger, the band has done just that.
The new album, Almost Human, explores the realms of the warm synth landscapes of the ambient “Vespers” & “Approaching Avarice,” ranges to the aggressive guitars, samples, and drums of “AutoprOn” & “Shook,” and carries listeners to the darker rhythms in the meter of 7 in the opening track, “Salem.” Themes that symbolize humanism are interwoven throughout the record and juxtaposed using different keys, tempos, and other variations. Combine that with a subtle ambiguity and you get an aesthetic that sets the imagination on fire.
Aside from crafting a new album, Sonmi has been on the rise on live performances as well. Having graced the festival circuit at MoogFest, Camp Bisco, Rootwire, Trinumeral, BeleChere, Gnarnia, LAFF, Tron-A-Thon and Luminescence, they have also shared the stage with Bonobo, Break Science, Benga, Pnuma Trio, Glitch Mob, BlueTech, Emancipator and Papadosio.
Beyond Almost Human, what can you expect from Sonmi? An impeccable live show, crafted beats, and a sound plenty unique enough to free imaginations from the tyranny of genre lines.