Somnambule - Writing About Music

310 ~ Downtown and Brooklyn Only

Who are/is 310? I don’t know. I could find out: there’s a website address on the back cover of the cd. I could go and look it up, but I’m not going to, at least until I’ve heard the music enough, written this review and sent it off. It’s not often you get to experience something nowadays without some form of mediation… actually I guess a cd cover and the track titles act as pretty big mediation. So let’s go interpret: the cover is black with black and white photographs – one I really like is of a young boy with a snorkel mask over his face, the tops of some trees reflected in the glass of his mask; another one is taken looking through a first floor window at a pigeon perched on the windowledge, wintry backyards visible below. The pics appear to be from a past America, from a box found in an attic. Some of the track titles are redolent of the 50s too: ‘Cop Slain’, ‘Persian Wolf’, ‘Dick Vitale is Dead’. ‘Downtown and Brooklyn Only’ sounds like a destination on a New York subway train.

It’s a double cd pack, both cds previously released as separate albums ('Snorkelhouse' in 1998, 'Aug 56' in 1997); each is over 70 minutes long. It’s on Leaf. Enough already: onto the music. The music sounds initially quiet and quite minimal, micro events fade up and fade out or drop away. Drums are to the fore on some tracks – could be programmed, but they sound to me like they’re real drums, or at least sampled, real ones. The music seems unhurried, happy to take its time, not out to make a big impression straightaway You know that the changes, modulations, details will become more significant the more you hear them. Drumtracks and looped sounds. The sounds are like urban sonic detritus gathering over the decades which has finally found a (useful) home. Feelings evoked are mainly of foreboding, unease, or of suspension, floating.

This music sounds to me like a cross between early Material (circa Temporary Music) and Michael Brook’s Hybrid with a touch of the darker elements of Boards of Canada; like an ethnography of faded NY suburbs, of possibilities lost but recaptured and given value. Intriguing, definitely worth the effort of listening and relistening.

(By the way the website address is:, but I think I like not knowing.)
Colin Buttimer
March 2002
Published by the BBC