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Jon Sonnenberg (And Related Projects)

Introduction and Background

Jon Sonnenberg is an American electronic musician, originally from California, best known these days for his solo project Travelogue. His first release was a homemade cassette entitled Christmas According to Jon, released in 1990 and recorded entirely on an 8-track reel-to-reel, with Side A featuring covers of classic holiday tunes like "Jingle Bells" and Side B featuring remixes of the Side A tracks in reverse. Editing was done physically: taking a razor blade and manually splicing tape together. Only 30 copies were created and distributed to friends and family on his 19th birthday.

Around the same time, Jon began recording tracks for his new project, Pirate Claug. Two cassettes were released under this name: Identity Crisis in 1991 and The Garden of Hill in 1993. Almost no information is available on the latter release, including the cover artwork, save for a partial tracklist.

In college, Jon met future collaborator Robert Gutschow, and towards the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994, Jon began a new gothic / industrial project with Rob called Pivot Clowj and self-released an album in December 1994, The Fish Who Could Swallow the Sea. The strength of this tape led to a record deal with Flaming Fish Music in 1998, which released Pivot Clowj's second and final album, It's Not as If It Were the End of the World... That Was Yesterday. During this time, Jon and Rob toured the US and appeared on several various artists compilations, notably Escape the Furnace Volumes I & II from Blacklight Records and Electrapop from Eclectica Music.

In late 1997, Jon and Rob developed a second project to explore their synthpop influences and formed House of Wires. In 1998, they released their first album, You Are Obsolete, on Plastiq Musiq (founded by Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric fame), then a subsidiary of the more well-known Tooth & Nail Records. This was followed in late 1999 by Monogamy, also on Plastiq Musiq. House of Wires made appearances on several Tooth & Nail compilations, and in 2001 recorded six more tracks before effectively disbanding. Three of these tracks would later be released in 2009 as a free, digital EP entitled The Found Sessions on Holiday Records (founded in part by Jacob Graham of The Drums).

Not long after this, Jon moved to the American midwest and began recording and performing as Travelogue, releasing his first album The Art of Conversation in 2002 through Plastiq Musiq. This was followed in 2003 by the self-released The Winter EP and a second full-length release in 2004 through Plastiq Musiq, Imaginary Hospitals. This record was also accompanied by the single "Hospital," featuring a couple different mixes of "Hospital" and a remix of "Channel 37" from the same album. 2006 saw the release of two EPs: Braille and Telegraph.

In 2008, Jon released an album under his own name for the first time since 1990: Acoustic Selections, an album of acoustic covers of tracks by Travelogue, House of Wires, and Pivot Clowj. Also in 2008, Jon collaborated with Israel Slick (of Red Orchestra) on the split release The Prometheus Project, with Jon writing and recording half of the album's tracks.

Four years later, Travelogue released two more albums: The Noise Is Only Temporary, a shift away from the minimalism of the first few releases and towards a funkier synthpop sound, and Fireworks, in which the totality of the percussion consists of actual fireworks samples.

2013 saw the formation of a new group with Ronnie Martin called Daphne Oramics. Jon and Ronnie released one track on Soundcloud, "Love Was Severed," and one track on a Plastiq Musiq compilation entitled "Wendy's Room (Rough Mix)." While they've played several shows under the Daphne Oramics name, there has not been any word of a full-length release as of yet.

Simultaneously, Jon scored three entries in the DROD computer game series (The City Beneath, Gunthro and the Epic Blunder, and The Second Sky). The soundtracks were made available on the Travelogue Bandcamp page in 2015 and mainly consist of brand-new compositions exclusively developed for the games, though instrumental versions of some older material do make appearances.

2016 and 2017 had a slew of reissues, namely both Pivot Clowj albums and digital versions of Noise and Fireworks. Additionally, demos and live tracks from Pivot Clowj were published, offering not only an insight into the live capabilities of the band, but also illuminating the origin of the sound by several Pirate Claug tracks taken from the original cassettes.

2018 saw the continuation of Travelogue live shows, all culminating in a 40-minute concert video posted to YouTube. Audio from the concert was mixed and mastered to MP3 format and distributed to those who promoted the video on social media (bonus fact: yours truly created the album art that was ultimately distributed with the MP3s and subsequent publishings on streaming services).

After seven years in development, Travelogue's fifth main album, Death of Conversaion, was released to great fanfare on Plastiq Musiq. The digital download version features several remixes, including contributions from Sound of Ceres and Robert Gutschow, as well as a couple bonus tracks.

In 2021, all three Travelogue EPs were reissued on Bandcamp, along with a separate release consisting of compilation tracks, rare singles, and additional unreleased material. This release also included several remixes previously published on Soundcloud. In addition, the live album from 2018 was released on various streaming platforms for the first time.

In between composing and recording, Jon has produced, mixed, and made contributions to several albums, including three releases by Said Fantasy (a Ronnie Martin project) and Cybershadow's second album, The Birth of the Future (also featuring Robert Gutschow and several other artists associated with Flaming Fish Music). He also invents instruments for use on his own recordings (notably the ARM: Acoustic Rhythm Machine).

Personal Experience

Coming soon

References, Official Links, and Further Points of Interest

Coming soon

Last updated: 26 February 2022