Sonder – Lovely
Too Fast
Baldwin Park

The triumvirate of Atu, Dpat, and Brent Faiyaz have spent the better part of the 2010’s coming into form and finding their signature styles. As some of the more prominent, talented producers in the experimental hip hop / R&B realm, Dpat and Atu both gained a fair amount of recognition among the initiated in 2013. Vocalist Faiyaz made his splash in early 2015, steadily gaining popularity since. Upon signing their allegiances with the Soulection family, both producers released dazzling, emotional projects – both still land favorably on the ever changing bulls-eye of quality music.

Of the three members of Sonder, Atu has arguably the most prestigious body of work. The Ann Arbor native built his reputation and acclaim behind the soulfully unique tracks of Pictures on Silence. With a particular knack for incorporating silence and sound disruption as meaningful ingredients alongside samples from prominent artists of a maturing generation (Ray J, John Legend, 112, and Robin Thicke to name a few), Atu capitalized on and continues to exist in a niche genre where he has left his mark.


Filling in the silences of Atu’s tracks, and so much more, is the second member of Sonder. With a decidedly dark and haunting arrangement, Houstonian producer Dpat brought his goosebump-inducing soundscapes to an even wider audience with In Bloom. His collaborative resume of late includes JMSN, Sango, and The Weeknd – with his distinctive touch easily apparent on each of their projects. Dpat’s success in ambient, future-soul production has also shaped the soundscape of Into with nuance and deep sentiments of isolation.


With the sounds of Atu and Dpat as a playground and imaginative space for his vocalizations, Brent Faiyaz completes the trio of Sonder. Of late, the Los Angeles by-way-of Baltimore singer has been keeping busy in the studio. Originally gaining respect due to an immensely impressive single in “Allure”, fans saw the release of his debut EP A.M. Paradox in September of 2016. Even more recently, Faiyaz teamed up with fellow DMV vocalist Goldlink and Shy Glizzy on “Crew”. Multiple allusions and preludes of Into can be found throughout Faiyaz’s works; looking no further than his EP introduction “Lovely” which reappears as the second track of Into.dpat


Sonder has been quietly releasing music since last year with its mixtape series (Victoria, Undone and Sheath). With seven tracks and a sub-30 minute length, Into drifts in and out of track breaks, lending itself to an increasingly popular style: the concept album. Particularly effective in Into, the delicate subtleties and cohesive subject matter allow the listener to arrive at the outro “Care” with the sensation of awakening from a state of hypnosis. Further layering the arrangements with live instrumentation, Sonder add to the dynamics with electric guitar throughout Into.

“Feel” opens the EP with a markedly nocturnal sentiment, echoing and weaving throughout. The harmonic regale stretches right into the second track, “Lovely”, diving into an even deeper progression. “Lovely” incorporates dynamic percussion concepts and stands out as one of the more wide-ranging songs of the project. While “Lovely” is highlighted for its broad-stroking sound, “Sirens” is noteworthy in its minimalism – a series of finger snaps and the strength of a Faiyaz-led pseudo a cappella carry it through the darkness. The most popular song from the project, “Too Fast”, continues a dark violin and snap pattern until reaching dramatic crescendo at about the 1:45 mark.faiyaz

Breaking slightly from form, “Baldwin Park” exists are more of an interlude than a full piece. Nonetheless, it deserves praise as a wonderful instrumental constructed solely with piano and snare drum. As a special nod to those falling in the under-30 demographic, “Searchin’” samples one of the original memorable R&B artists of our upbringing. Borrowing from the 2005 Jamie Foxx release “Can I Take U Home”, Sonder strikes a particular note with the Ninja team; firstly for managing to work around and improvise a Timbaland production, and secondly for drawing inspiration from some of our all-time favorites as well. For fans of Brent Faiyaz, the structure of “Searchin” was alluded to as a background intro on last year’s release “Poison”.

Closing out Into, “Care” continues the formula seen throughout where the trio strays far away from overproduction. The simplicity and delicate feel of the track – as well as its unique time signatures – send listeners away having experienced a novelty in 2017. Into is an ode to a near-extinct 90s style of R&B lyrically and stylistically, while also taking advantage of the nuanced capabilities of Atu and Dpat.

Into is certainly an appealing EP based on set and setting. Much like the solo works of trio, the album excels with a dark, enigmatic, down-tempo vibe throughout. Fans can stream the project in full & stay up to date on the releases of Atu, Dpat, Brent Faiyaz and, collectively, Sonder on Apple Music, Spotify, or Soundcloud.

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