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Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures

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Album Review

Lullatone's music has always been what you could call programmatic, from the project's origins with Shawn Seymours attempts to make music soft enough not to wake his sleeping girlfriend, Yoshimi Tomida, to early albums full of gentle anthems for bedtime, bathtime, and waking-up time. Their recent undertakings have been even more specifically utilitarian in nature, including downloadable collections of 30-second alarms and ringtones, one- to two-minute snippets of elevator music, and loopable crib-mobile lullabies. Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures is both an extension of that approach and a clever, somewhat philosophical twist on it, playing with similar notions of music designed for a very specific purpose; in this case, as the title suggests, as a counterpart to living your life. Each of these short, simple instrumental pieces is named for the sort of everyday experience to which it might provide an appropriate score: hence, "Checking Things off a To-Do List Early in the Morning" (jaunty recorders and glockenspiels accompanied by ukulele, melodica, and plenty of handclaps and toy percussion) is brightly motivated and pleasantly peppy, while "A Picture of Your Grandparents When They Were Young" (placid bowed and pizzicato strings under a slow-moving music box melody) is soft and wistful (although for some reason, "Riding a Bike Down a Big Hill and Taking Your Feet Off of the Pedals" is considerably more relaxed and tranquil than the thrilling sensation its title describes). Taken as a whole, the album has a consistent (and very Lullatone-ish) feeling of wide-eyed charm, curiosity, and wonder. It's easy to imagine little kids digging its simultaneously playful and soothing sounds — not coincidentally, Seymour and Tomida, who have always wholeheartedly embraced their sense of child-like sweetness and simplicity, are now proud parents themselves. It's even easier, and perhaps slightly troubling, to imagine it as the soundtrack to a cloying cutesy montage in a TV commercial or perhaps a particularly precious "quirky" indie film — but that's mostly just to say that, despite their adorably "amateur" aesthetic of toy instruments and home-grown distribution channels, Lullatone have honed their knack for conveying certain emotions and sentiments to the point that they now sound fully polished and professional. Whether you find those sentiments delightful and endearing or trite and insipid is another question. But Lullatone — who have edged away from the electronics of their early work and are now working with their richest and most sonically varied palette yet, albeit one that still consists largely of "toy" sounds — definitely know what they're doing, and there's not really anybody who does it better. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Nagoya, Japan

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

The delicate lap-pop project Lullatone came together shortly after Shawn James Seymour moved from his hometown of Louisville, KY, to Nagoya, Japan, with his girlfriend and bandmate, Yoshimi Tomida. The two initially met in an intercultural communications class at the Bellarmine University. At one point during class, the teacher asked the exchange students what they had trouble adjusting to in America. Tomida replied that she was having trouble adjusting to American food, so after class Seymour offered...
Full bio

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