By Judah Schulte
For his third full length release, Jacco Gardner has made some serious changes. The record is entirely instrumental, bare of even any non-verbal vocal decorum. Instead, the Dutch solo artist asks an array of vintage synthesizers to do the talking. Though Somnium is much more cinematic than the back catalogue, it’s not a sharp left turn but a slight change in direction, expertly blending the baroque pop of the Jacco we know and ambient synth-scapes of the Jacco we are discovering.
The record begins with “Rising,” a Vangelis-level synthesizer trip that may as well be the name for the LP, as it is a seamless whole. Throughout the tracklist, synths soar and warble, everything grainy as an old photo. The rhythms are simple but engaging, endowing an energy to songs like the second to last, “Descending,” which brings the spacious synth high to an end.
Even without vocabulary on its side, Somnium clearly communicates the dialed musicianship and wide-spanning vision of an artist evolving.Jacco Gardner, Polyvinyl, Record Review, Somnium