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Review: Sonotto - 'Casual Sex'

In a city known for its vibrant music scene and innovative artists, Sonotto, the Bristol-based Electronic and Ambient artist, is back with another high-octane single exploring the limitations of love and sex.

By Milan Perera, Deputy Editor

Dubbed as ‘Bristol's answer to Ziggy Stardust’, Sonotto’s mesmerising new single has sent sonic ripples through the electronic music landscape. The single, 'Casual Sex' is the result of a larger movie project, deeply rooted in the historical context of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. It never fails to take listeners on a compelling journey through the complexities of desire, betrayal, anger, and self-fulfilment.

The inspiration for the single came about in March 2022 when he was writing the score for a film produced by a group of graduates from the University of West of England (UWE). On receiving his first commission as a film composer he explained: ‘I think they saw one of my performances at a house party. I think it's like Halloween house party back in 2021. And they really enjoyed it and then few months later they sent me a message saying, ‘we really like your sound and think you would be perfect for this film!’’

The film in question was touching on the AIDS epidemic. The story revolves around a man who was infected with the virus from his partner at the time. According to Sonotto: ‘The partner knew that they had it but they did it anyway. I think it was bordering on sexual exploitation’ The movie was from the angle of the of the person who is in lying on a hospital bed staring in to the great void.

Sonotto | Daniel Carmago-Grosso

He chuckled and said: ‘Yeah, they sent me a brief with a bunch of 80s stuff in it. You know, the likes of The Human League, B52 and stuff like that.’ He listened to the trademark sounds of the 1980s and immersed in the landscape where AIDS epidemic was rearing its ugly head.

The inspiration for the single came from one particular track of the score with a strong phrenetic line which he felt an immediate connection to. For the track he was using a DX7 Emulator. DX7 is synonymous with the 80s sounds, characterised with its acrid and metallic hues. He recorded the vocals within one sitting before even before adding any drum and bass.

On the vocal line he said: ‘I actually recorded the entire vocals in one go. I think the vocal take took something like 25 minutes.’

Sonotto | Daniel Carmago-Grosso

The new single, whose title remains shrouded in mystery, is a sonic masterpiece that encapsulates the raw emotions of an era marked by the AIDS epidemic. The pulsating beats and ethereal synthesisers transport listeners to the '80s while the lyrics cut to the core of human vulnerability. Sonotto's haunting vocals, layered with a sense of detachment, evoke the feelings of yearning, betrayal, and the complexities of human connection.

The comparison to David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust is not one to be taken lightly. Sonotto's ability to fuse elements of glam rock, synth-pop, and electronica is reminiscent of Bowie's chameleon-like approach to music. Just as Ziggy Stardust marked a turning point in rock history, Sonotto's unique brand of electronic music is pushing boundaries and challenging conventions.

Beyond the music, Sonotto's latest single carries a profound message. It's a reminder of the struggles of the past and the need for empathy, understanding, and the hidden reserves of endurance in the face of adversity. In the context of today's challenges, it is a battle cry to remind the strength embedded in human spirit.

Featured Image: Daniel Carmago-Grosso

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