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Notes and the Like

Ms. John Soda

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Album Review

The mixed-gender duo Ms. John Soda made big steps in the indie-electronica world with their 2002 debut, No P. or D., and with their follow-up full-length release, Notes and the Like, it's just as probable that they will continue happily down that path. It doesn't hurt that the two members, Stephanie Böhm and Micha Acher, both come from already well-established groups and are able to bring their collective expertise into crafting Ms. John Soda's music. They know what they're doing, and there is some fantastically catchy pop-electronica on the album ("Hands" and "Scan the Ways," for example). The songs themselves are fairly simple, often containing not much more than a looped drum track, some carefully placed synthesizer noises and chords, an eighth-note-strumming electric guitar, and, when she doesn't sing, a kind of sexy and almost threatening spoken word delivery from Böhm. The production is subtle and clean, and everything blends together in a way to create a full and unified sound. If there were a focal point in Ms. John Soda, it would probably be Böhm, whose German-accented English is the perfect accompaniment to the already eerie and melancholic songs. Her voice is direct yet ambiguous, though when she chooses to sing (instead of speak), her lyrics can be almost indecipherable. This is perhaps intentional, or at least not unwelcome, because in those same songs she uses her voice like an instrument, like another layer meant to be mixed in with everything else (like in "Plenty Of," where she mimics the phrasing of a string group while the violins take a more melodic line). It's all done with skill and to great effect, and the album is good for mood-setting background or forefront reflection, or for some combination of the two. It really doesn't matter which way is chosen, just as long as Notes and the Like is listened to.

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Called a "part-time" project by Couch keyboardist Stephanie Böhm and Notwist and Tied + Tickled Trio bassist Micha Acher, Ms. John Soda finds the two Weilheim, Germany, musicians changing roles (Böhm takes vocals while Acher moves to programming) to produce a very lush electronica-pop sound that has won them fans on both sides of the Atlantic. The duo broke into the scene in 2002 with their record No P. or D. on Morr Music, a German electronica...
Full bio
Notes and the Like, Ms. John Soda
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