Sonny J - Disastro

Owain Paciuszko 26/06/2008

Rating: 4/5

Calling a debut album 'Disastro' seems to be inviting trouble, fortunately Sonnington James III has skirted the issue by delivering a blisteringly instant slab of rather demented dance. It bares many similarities to the same French-tinged, electro mash-up likes of Soulwax's 2 Many DJs project. Unlike many DJs turn(table?)ing their hands to an original album Sonny has the smarts to keep his tracks short, snappy and consistently imaginative; lacing tunes with the same kind of inspired sampling that marked out Propellerheads' Decksanddrumsandrockandroll as a bona fide classic, though this is more Saturday morning cartoon than that oft-soundtracked cinematic record.

Tracks such as I'm So Heavy throw a surreal, neurotic telephone conversation around a bouncy, ludicrously upbeat groove; the album is peppered with these smart juxtapositions that keep each track individual yet part of a cohesive and well crafted whole. Like Mr. Scruff the real surprise here is that Sonny J manages to push a sense of personality through his music, another trait often lacking in dance albums.

It's not all fast-paced wackiness, there's a pause halfway for a really laidback acoustic track lead by female vocals, and it's a welcome repose in amongst the pleasant madness. It's also, and this may seem a tad close-minded, a surprisingly accomplished track that would fit snugly on many a singer-songwriter's album - in fact it feels quite a bit like a Gemma Hayes track.

Bashing down my wall of dance music cynicism and making me long for an excuse to party, this is one of those perfect 'getting ready for a night out' albums, much like 'As Heard on Radio Soulwax' or (my personal preference) Beck's 'Midnite Vultures'. Like both those albums its eclectic, unabashedly ridiculous, often times as blunt as a kick in the face from a strong donkey and equally as surprising. Yet given the right mood it's appealing, infectious (in a good way) and will slap a big dumb smile on your face.