An excellent electronica work with truly attractive vocal. Regardless of the genre, it appears (at least to me) that one is able to come across quality vocal music only rather rarely in the current netlabel scene. But this release is, in my humble opinion, one of the definitive cases in point that there really do exist some genuinely talented vocalists emerging from netlabels who are able to sing AND are capable of creating music uniquely of their own.
This six song EP of approximately 28 minutes of music, titled The Definition of Imperfection (Drift Records, drift001), is the very first release from the relatively new netlabel, Drift Records, founded some time around May this year (2005). And deservedly is it the initial, literally groundbreaking release for this label, as its song/music writing, vocals, instrumentation and sound production are all topnotch.
The main attraction here is of course the female vocalist as well as songwriter/lyricist Sinestetici, aka Sammie (Samantha) Ryan, reportedly an Austin, Texas (USA) native.
Sinestetici's voice is extremely clear in higher tones—as evidenced in the fifth song "Vision" in which she sings to a plain acoustic guitar; And at the same time, she can sing with a peculiar persuasive power in mid- to lower-range (especially when she goes into slightly husky crooning), as in the opening verses of the first track (very catchy!) "Wrong". Her modes of expression in singing are accordingly pretty versatile, from ethereal to ennuï, to anguished and then to sad, etc etc....
This attractive vocal of Sammie-san's was the first thing that got me hooked upon my initial listen.
But equally attractive to me was the sound production/arrangement of this entire EP. Three DJs/musicians are given credit to as collaborators for this release, viz: KiloWatts, DoF and Daigoro (whose current moniker is Erstlaub). Sinestetici's vocals are intricately treated (effects added, granulated then spliced to turn the bits into rhythm tracks, etc) by these three masters, as typically seen in songs "Reflective Deceptor" (the third track) and "Ideal Chameleon" (the fourth) where KiloWatts exhibits his skills (but not overly done), or towards the end of the last song on the EP "A Love Song", one of the three collaborations with DoF.
The instrumentation and arrangement of each song are superb as well. Use of electronic instruments are fair and under a very good controll, just enough to let the melodies and Sinestetici's vocals stand out on their own. I am aware that this is my personal preference, but I simply love the mixture of acoustic sounds from piano and guitar with electronic instruments and effects. Here in this release, the balance is very well thought out and effective.
How did this kind of wizardry come about? Sammie-san, in answering my questions via e-mail, tells us about the production process of this release as follows:
All the lyrics in this release, except for those of "Vision" which is an old Irish hymn dating from somewhere in the 1600's, are my own originals. However, I can not take any real credit whatsoever for the actual production of the songs themselves. I have been very very blessed to have worked with some of the finest talent in the netlabel industry at the moment, and all credit should go to them.
[... as for the actual recording/production process,] Believe it or not, everything was done over the net. We all met using a file sharing program called Soulseek. Kilowatts and I did a lot of the discussion and planning of our two tracks together over the phone, but there was no actual face to face communication. I'd send them something I thought would work, they would try it out, if they needed something different they would describe it to me as best they could, and we would work something out as best we could. It offered me the opportunity to take a lot of creative initiative when it came to the vocals themselves, which is something I enjoy immensely. All in all, the process was a lot of fun, and not too terribly painstaking at all.
I initially wrote to Sammie-san as I couldn't make out most of the lyrics (after all, English is not my native tongue) and I wanted to know what was sung in these beautiful songs. She promptly gave me a reply, with a lyrics file attached.
With her permission, I'd like to quote a memorable passage:
Well I'm sorry
I'm so wrong
but I've been
telling you the truth
and you've only believed what you tried to perceive
and what you wanted me to be
was nothing short of nothing that i am
but i adore you still
and i guess
nothing can and nothing will
change the way i feel
like I'm not good enough
in any way
to make you want to stay
"I'll be there tomorrow morning"From "Wrong"
A love song—maybe, but perhaps this first person "I" could be you or me, in whatever age, in whatever kind of personal relationship with someone dear. (And it must be made clear here that I am in no position or with no qualification/ability to judge verses in any foreign language.)
Anyhow, as hopefully evident from the quote above, Sinestetici's lyrics are in relatively plain words yet loaded with personal feelings and poignant emotions—don't you think?
All in all, The Definition of Imperfection is an impressive release, and deserves repeated listening. The sound heard here—a firm and feminine vocal presence that sings touching lyrics in finely-crafted electronic sounds/beats—naturally reminded me at first of my beloved Everything But The Girl (ebtg), particularly in their later career when the duo turned to electronica. This association is maybe valid at this moment, but most probably we should better be on the watchout, as Sinestetici will no doubt be changing with each of her future releases.
[This was more or less a bilingual writing attempt, and this English version was done first. Completed and posted on the 15th of November, 2005. The Japanese version of this article with the same title was posted on the 15th of November, 2005, under the category: music.]
[English Articles Index of this site is here.]
In addition to her (more personal?) website (as linked above), there is another (apparently official) Sinestetici site in the Drift Records domain, from where you can get to her official announcement mailing list.
Sinestetici's music is already on 12inch vinyl and CD.
"Ideal Chameleon" is also carried on the CD titled Mixmag Live by Max Graham.
Last but not least, Domo-Arigato! to you Sammie-san, for your kindest cooperation in making this little article possible and the wonderful music of yours.