Sonic Deception – “Ghost Army” (2016)

Record stores like Amoeba Records are a dying breed. (♠) The Hollywood location has so much vinyl that it’s ridiculous, with sections for certain sub-sub-sub genres that are as big as the entire vinyl sections in some shops. Like the Experimental section I flipped through the other day… four rows wide of truly obscure stuff, and totally separate from the probably 50+ feet of electronica, not to mention all the subsections like house and acid. It’s freaking nuts.

And that’s where I found a record with a cool cover on the Radio Bongo imprint. A record I think there’s a zero percent chance I’d have ever found in Seattle.

Radio Bongo is the label of President Bongo of Gusgus fame, and Sonic Deception is the project of Iceland’s Bjarki Jónsson. As near as I can tell Ghost Army is Jónsson’s first album, and it just came out last month, so it’s a bit surprising to me that I didn’t hear about it on social media, but there it was, nestled away in an obscure section at Amoeba. Who decided they needed to carry that particular title? Did anyone roll their eyes when it came in, like “what is this crap and who is going to buy it?” Turns out someone did. In fact I bought not one not two but three Icelandic albums on that visit to Amoeba, and none of them were Björk, The Sugarcanes, nor Sigur Rós.

Sonic Deception is some pretty solid dark ambient, a bit moody and dark, but with a fairly crisp pace that could find a home in a club. Can I describe it to you? No. All six songs are named after guns, though, and the cover image is some WWI/WWII era Finnish soldiers with skis, guns, and gas masks, all of which is very non-electronic-ish. The vinyl is limited to 300 individually signed and numbered copies, and as far as I know it isn’t available on other formats at this time, though the vinyl comes with a CD copy of the album nestled inside, something I seem to see quite a bit with European imports these days.

I don’t see Sonic Deception/Bjarki on the Iceland Airwaves roster this year, but I’ll definitely be checking the off venue schedule to see if he has any sets scheduled, because if he does I’ll make a point in checking him out.

(♠) Quite literally. When I was in LA last week the TV news was running a story that the owner of Amoeba’s building won’t be renewing the store’s lease. Instead it will be torn down in a couple of years and replaced by a 20+ story something-or-other.