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“Strange Flowers” by Sonarpilot

With a moderate swagger behind its droning intro, “Strange Flowers” begins to play, immediately taking us back in time to a simpler era in ambient music that is only slightly recognizable in the modern renditions of its sound. “Strange Flowers” has traveled a long way through history to find itself under the direction of one Sonarpilot this April, and although it’s a recognizable piece that is and always will be a product of its creator’s immense passion for the avant-garde, it somehow feels like one of the most meaningful performances of Sonarpilot’s career because of its casual arrangement. This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard someone try and put their mark on a tune like this one, but it ranks among the best I’ve come across in a long time.  

One of the best things about “Strange Flowers” is the openness of the master mix, leaving more than enough space for the live audience to have a great effect on the energy of the performance overall. There’s something simply magical about a crowd reacting with excitement to the performance of a heartfelt player like Sonarpilot that sends chills down my spine every time I listen to this single, and because of the meticulousness that went into designing even the more intricate elements of the track, we’re never robbed of any natural tonality or artistic zeal. It’s as though we’re in a concert hall hearing this piece being performed before an entire group of curious ambient aficionados, as opposed to merely imagining the moment through a pair of average speakers.  

I will say that the backend in this piece feels a little heavier than it needed to be, but this is ultimately an excusable flaw given just how much action there is to focus on upfront. Sonarpilot doesn’t develop one-dimensional content; he proved a long time ago that he has an ear for the erudite, and when constructing “Strange Flowers,” he was careful to make sure that his eclecticisms weren’t the only communicator of emotionality in the song. Even the rhythm of the strings becomes an agent of evocation before all is said and done, and if you would have told me that it would be as powerful a component as it is in this cover just a month ago, I don’t know that I could have believed you.  

“Strange Flowers” concludes with a simple nod and wink as everything fades into the silence from which it was first sprung. There aren’t any bells and whistles here, much as there weren’t any at the initial start of the track. Sonarpilot is above the filler-based songcraft of his less-than-brilliant peers, and in this brilliant new offering in the form of one “Strange Flowers,” he puts himself well above the competition not only through a precise attack but a natural kinship with the material. In short, this is by far one of the most dedicated instrumental offerings I think you’re going to hear before the start of the spring season – if not throughout all of 2023 itself – and if you have not yet heard this artist’s work before, it’s about time you did. 

Mindy McCall



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