The easy way out would be to say that Greg Davis? new album sounds like its title, but that would not only be unfair it would also give you the wrong impression of what to expect. "Somnia" is just like its amazing predecessors impressively organic but it is also different in the sense that it solely explores one idea and then sticks to it. All of the six epic tracks only feature a single instrument (bowed psaltery, acoustic guitar, harmonica, fender rhodes, chord organ), but everything has been taken through Davis? computerized filters so it?s actually quite hard to hear what?s what. But that hardly matters as what glacially seeps out of the speakers so successfully creates moods and visual images for the ones with long attentions spans. ?Clouds As Edges? offers a hovering cloud of static drones, beautifully draped curtains of processed guitar bliss that achieves a great deal without ever going anywhere. ?Diaphonous? is less tranquil with higher tonal variations tracing the skeleton of a melody against the constant flow of manipulated fender rhodes electric piano, but mostly this is a steady low minimal drone/noise bliss. The resulting soundscape is alien and less inviting than the previous track, but nonetheless enthralling. Then the chord organ-based ?Capestral? is more soothing, and it?s actually difficult to think of more suitable headphone listening while staring at the slowly shifting clouds, watching the gentle movements of a river or as a soundtrack for a road trip through a vast, deserted landscape. What from the beginning seems like soothing contemplation actually goes further and has a depth that hints at bigger issues and thus provides us with some of the most remarkable drones I?ve heard all year.
"Somnia" is a new direction for Davis in the sense that the album mainly explores sustained notes, minimalism and drones rather than integrating acoustic and electronic instruments, which was the case on the much-heralded (at least around these parts) "Arbor" album. But if you?re one of those who haven?t merely enjoyed Davis because of his more traditional laptop work I am sure this will do the track just as nicely because this is music without a particular beginning, middle, or end, that leaves a lot of space for the listener. 8/10 -- Mats Gustafsson (25 May, 2005)