Monday, 26th June 2017. 1:18:50pm ET
Reviews CD Reviews Synthpop, New Wave Travelogue- Imaginary Hospitals


Artist: Travelogue
CD Title: Imaginary Hospitals
Label: Plastiq Music
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
Date: 10/11/04

With the current crop of so-called “electroclash” acts plundering the most ridiculous aspects of early synthpop, it’s getting harder and harder to suppress an involuntary cringe whenever I hear an artist claim “’80s music” as an influence. Fortunately, there are people like Travelogue’s Jon Sonnenburg who eschew the Flock of Seagulls haircuts in favor of focusing their efforts on the music itself. Don’t think of Human League or Missing Persons – think Tubeway Army, Fad Gadget, and Portion Control. Sonnenberg’s latest album starts off with Gary Numan-influenced keyboards on “Commodity,” but the lyrics are warm and gentle instead of deliberately robotic or alien. “You and I” and “Operation” use old-fashioned breakbeats, but the vocal harmonies are pure pop genius. “Hospital” and “Sumner Street” are slower and more minimal, decorated with judiciously placed beeps and dripping textures. “Identity” is most reminiscent of Sonnenberg’s earlier, more experimental work as Pivot Clowj, while the high-pitched tones and spacey warblings of “Channel 37” hint at the artist’s passion for early Legendary Pink Dots. The disc ends with “A Happy Ending,” which is a perfect example of Sonnenberg at his best: the keyboard arpeggios bounce happily along, but wistful vocals give the song a little sadness and a lot of depth. That, and not some fetish for New Wave sunglasses and Atari video games, is what brilliant synthpop is really made of.

See what Jon Sonnenberg’s up to at www.artoftravelogue.com.


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