somesurprises is the moniker of Seattle singer/songwriter Natasha El-Sergany. What once was a solo project focusing on spectral balladry and late night exploration, somesurprises has since formed into a dynamic live band. Motorik beats, reverb-drenched vocals, washes of fingerpicked guitars, and hazy synths expand El-Sergany's delicate and blissful songwriting.
Starting with a solo tape release of cell phone recordings on 2016’s Voice Memos, El-Sergany then collaborated with guitarist Josh Medina (Debacle Records) for duo debut ambient album, Serious Dreams, released on Eiderdown Records in 2017. Serious Dreams was described by The Quietus as "a thoroughly cosmic outing. Everything is lush and smooth enough to describe as ambient music as much as folk, almost seeming too dreamy to have ever been real." The release also received kind reviews from Bandcamp, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, and Tiny Mixtapes.
Next, somesurprises took to recording as a full band with drummer Nico Sophiea (MX-80 Sound) and bassist Emma Danner (Red Ribbon), releasing Alt, on LA’s Doom Trip Records in 2018. Aquarium Drunkard compared the three-song “krautpop” EP to an imaginary collaboration between Grouper and Spiritualized. In early 2019, somesurprises put out a collaborative split tape with Seattle’s Supercandy (some candy, released by Crash Symbols), with guest musicians Brenan Chambers, Lori Goldston, Monika Khot, and Ambrosia Bardos weaving layers of soaring guitar effects, cello, vocals, and trumpet into the mix.
Over the years, somesurprises has built a strong presence in the Seattle music scene, and toured the west coast. In Seattle, they have opened for touring artists such as Circuit Des Yeux, Carla dal Forno, A Place to Bury Strangers, and the Cave Singers. This year finds somesurprises set to release their self-titled, full-length LP on Drawing Room Records, an exciting milestone for this aptly named, shapeshifting project.
Every so often, there comes an album with such foreign, yet familiar, beauty, it holds a plethora of surprises. The self-titled debut album from somesurprises is as close to spiritual bliss as a tangible pinnacle can be. Taking cues from the shoegaze canon, with guided hands of experimental and pop music masters, Natasha El-Sergany and her collective-minded company in somesurprises invoke a holy ghost to bring forth an otherworldly experience.
With its 36th release, Drawing Room brings in a new wonder with somesurprises’ self-titled debut LP, a treasure among pop treasures. The album explores a range of styles, from gradually intensifying meditative drones, to songs where the same moment never quite happens twice. As in previous cassette releases with fewer members, El-Sergany uses her ethereal voice as an instrument, no more or less central to the music than a guitar hook or a drumbeat. But the vocals and lyrics are more in focus than ever before. ‘Cherry Sunshine’ layers fingerpicked arpeggios with soaring organ melodies, steady motorik rhythm, and an invitation to reflect on “a wide open world” until words become no longer necessary. From shimmering cascades of reverbed guitar chords, to driving bass and percussion guiding guitar and synth freak-out outros, as a full band, somesurprises finds its fullest expression yet. The songwriting here, laden with effects and orchestral arrangements, reaches for more than navel-gazing, or (even shoegazing) and seeks, perhaps, through knowledge of the self, to guide the way out of one’s own mind.
The album bears repeating for repeated plays (at maximum volume for peak pleasantries).