Ms. John Soda, the sibling/side project of German noisemakers the Notwist and Couch's Stefanie Böhm, has some pretty big genre-expanding shoes to fill.
Fortunately, there's plenty of room in the Baroque-electronica-pop book, and their debut album, No P. or D., is strong enough to impress both fans of IDM and casual listeners on its own terms. The album manages to merge guitars, ambient pop, and glitch pop with grace, steering clear of the cut-and-paste not-quite-there unions put out by bands like Air or Portishead. At the same time, the band follows in the footsteps of pop noise experimentalists like Stereolab and Solex, but always takes the road less traveled: Where Stereolab would layer and take tracks into jams or movements, Ms.
John Soda pulls back, making room for the richness of the deceptively organic rhythm section; where Radiohead or Björk would tailor an album for headphones, No P. or D.'s aura can be immediately appreciated. The soft-spoken vocals add texture -- which, depending on the track, is perfect (on "Misco") or frustrating (on "Solid Ground"); that is to say, the words are not the thing, the mood is. And that mood (also found on the Notwist's Neon Golden) is the group's greatest strength: They make recordings that can be left on as background, but the arrangements hold up to scrutiny and reveal new subtleties with each listen. There are few artists capable of producing a debut that adapts to so many contexts, and it's this ability that makes No P. or D.
|Technicolor / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:17|
|Misco / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:17|
|Go Check / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:15|
|Solid Ground / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||3:26|
|By Twos / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||5:49|
|Unsleeping / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:07|
|Hiding/Fading / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:56|
|Elusive / Micha Acher||Ms. John Soda||4:51|