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Sonic Boom

Over the course of a long career, Sonic Boom's unvarying desire to explore the beauty and power of repetition through hypnotic, sometimes abrasive sound has made him a legendary figure. Whether utilizing guitars and drug imagery as part of the influential group Spacemen 3, digging into electronic noise and avant-garde sounds with the Experimental Audio Research collective, or fronting his vintage synth-driven pop unit Spectrum, his devotion to his aural ideals earned him an impressive following in the late '80s through the '90s. He turned his focus toward production and collaboration after that, working with important artists like Panda Bear and MGMT and underground artists like Cheval Sombre. In the late 2010s, he returned to making music, collaborating on an EP with No Joy in 2018 and two years later releasing the quintessentially hypnotic All Things Being Equal. In 2022, Sonic Boom teamed up with longtime collaborator Panda Bear for the joint album Reset. While attending art college, Rugby, England native Pete Kember teamed up with Jason Pierce to form Spacemen 3, recording a demo tape in 1986. After signing to Glass Records, the group recorded their debut LP, Sound of Confusion, for which Kember adopted the name Peter Gunn. By the time of their follow-up EP, Walkin' with Jesus, he had rechristened himself Sonic Boom, keeping the pseudonym for the duration of his career to date. In 1990, he issued an album under the Sonic Boom name, Spectrum; when Spacemen 3 broke up soon after, Kember recycled the Spectrum title as the name of his new band. Spectrum debuted with the full-length Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) in 1992, and released two more LPs (Highs, Lows & Heavenly Blows and Forever Alien) as the decade progressed. Spectrum also issued many singles and EPs, as well as collaborations with Silver Apples and Jessamine. Sonic Boom was also the driving force behind the avant-noise Experimental Audio Research project, a loose configuration of musicians including My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields and Techno Animal's Kevin Martin, among others. That group released many records over the last half of the '90s, and resurfaced for one album, Worn to a Shadow, in the mid-2000s, a time when Kember was more likely to be guesting or producing someone else rather than making music on his own. During the 2000s, he worked with Füxa, the Warlocks, Magnétophone, Dean & Britta, Cheval Sombre, Sunray, and the Flowers from Hell, both as a performer and producer. His return from the fringes of the alternative scene occurred when MGMT hired him to produce their high-profile second album, Congratulations, in 2010. Afterwards, he continued working steadily, adding his hypnotic magic to records by TEEN, Cheval Sombre, Panda Bear, and Moon Duo, and collaborating on a heavily electronic 2018 EP with shoegaze revivalists No Joy. A couple years before that, he had begun working on a set of instrumentals done on modular synths. Despite receiving assurance from his longtime friend Tim Gane (of Stereolab fame) that the songs were good enough to release, Kember shelved them. After a move to Portugal in 2018, he revisited the tracks and added vocals. This time he deemed it ready, and Carpark issued All Things Being Equal in 2020. The typically hypnotic and uniquely sunny album featured collaborations with Panda Bear and Britta Phillips. A collection of Kember's synth-heavy remixes of songs from the album -- plus two tracks that were released exclusively in Japan -- soon followed. Titled Almost Nothing is Nearly Enough, the album was issued by Carpark in April of 2021. The next year Sonic Boom and Panda Bear joined forces once again for Reset, their first official collaborative LP after more than a decade of working together. The sessions for Reset began during the early phases of the international lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and found the old friends pushing each other to new places creatively, Sonic Boom even singing on some tracks where he kept to an instrumental role on previous collaborations. The album was released by Domino in August of 2022.
© Jason Ankeny & Tim Sendra /TiVo
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