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Go to the Sanso-xtro website  Sanso-xtro - Sentimentalist [Type / Lowlands - 2005]

When a name like this one is associated with a musical project rather than with some new chemical medication, you probably expect a rather robotic kind of electronic music, some very cold techno influenced ambiences.

Far from it: if Sanso-xtro were to be a kind of medicine, it would be a home-made, plant-based one, since the eleven tracks here assembled have something in them of a life at the country family photo album.

Apparently, the woman behind this music, one Melissa Agate, is no newcomer to the music world, having been part of various Australian avant-rock outfits. Since then, she has seemingly given up the rock side to concentrate on a somewhat more personal and intimate music.

Even before listening to the CD, there are reasons to think that it might be a pretty good one: it’s released on Type Records (home to “wonderboy” Khonnor) and it has been mastered by Andreas Tilliander (aka Mokira, among others). Of course, it’s mainly the music that does the talking once you’ve actually pressed play on your cd-player.

Melissa Agate may well consider herself as a drummer, it’s the laptop that seems to be the main instrument, at times producing clicks and cuts à la Oval or some more abstract, droney soundscapes, à la -why not?- Aoki Takamasa. If it was all, it might just be a boring album: I‘m not sure we really need more clickers and cutters. However, Agate has the common sense of using a very varied cast of percussion devices, which she plays at times in classic melodic way or in a less traditional fashion.  Of the other instruments involved, it was neither the guitar nor the ukulele that drew my attention the most: it was the kalimba, a traditional African instrument. It’s very distinctive sounds are featured prominently on some of the best tracks off Sentimentalist.

While being in a class of her own, Melissa Agate could be linked to someone like Colleen: both share a highly personal approach to music-making, using unusual instruments, composing extremely touching music.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

François Monti
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