Sanna – Carbon Compound Combinations

Leith three-piece Sanna's debut album is filled with poetic lyrics and a variety of sonic inventions

Album Review by Amy Hill | 13 May 2019
  • Sanna – Carbon Compound Combinations
Album title: Carbon Compound Combinations
Artist: Sanna
Label: KWAM YC
Release date: 17 May

Carbon Compound Combinations sounds different every time you listen to it. At first glance it sounds like some sort of experimental I Am Kloot, and then it morphs into something else entirely, as meandering and mesmerising instrumentals underpin Graham Clarke’s vocals. What’s more, Sanna’s much-anticipated debut album gives us a chance to hear Clarke’s lyrics more clearly than in their live shows, and the poeticism of this self-effacing frontman is starker than ever.

Clarke’s voice reverberates through the crevices of Martin O’Donnell’s guitar (Pop Chong), and Sylvia Bell completes the three-piece, masterfully navigating cello, clarinet, vocals and keys throughout. There's also a warmth and intimacy to be found in the album's production, courtesy in part to co-producer Gavin Fort, best known for his work with Main Ingredient.

At times, when listening to Carbon Compound Combinations, it really feels like you’re in the room with the band, which might be due to the fact that it was recorded in a series of different spaces around their home city of Edinburgh. In Eco Devo, Sanna perhaps pay tribute to the fact that many of those spaces no longer exist, having fallen victim to the economic pressures that hang over the independent music industry – 'It’s in your town / There’s economic devastation all around'.

Carbon Compound Combinations is a record that rises and falls like breath, with buoyant moments punctuated by backing synths (Divine & Conquer, Elements), followed by slower reflections with soft harmonies and atmospheric guitar (Remember 6, Suppose). Although each time you return to this album, something new reveals itself, it also feels like you’ve been listening to the same record the whole time. It’s fresh but familiar and it’s bloody lovely.

Listen to: Divine & Conquer, Remember 6, Pop Chong