In the midst of releasing Skylar Gudasz’s album Cinema to national acclaim during the COVID-19 shutdown, Suah Sounds label founder Michael Venutolo-Mantovani also found time to write and record a bunch of instrumentals and send them to Suah signees and friends to add vocals, and sometimes, extra guitars, keys, and production.

The result is The Co​-​Isolation Sessions, a jam-packed compilation album from which 100 percent of proceeds (the musicians and producers donated their work) will go to the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

It features al riggs, Jphono1, Django Haskins, John Howie Jr., and many others, and while it isn’t out until June 5, the dynamic S.E. Ward song we’re premiering today indicates it’s more than worth the wait.

“State of Wonder” hits a sweet spot between Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie and the Banshees, between heavenly dreampop and anxious post-punk. The commanding intro, melodic but droning, suddenly coalesces into a low-slung boogie. Then guitars fan out above it in shimmering fountains, and Ward’s singing seems to push against some upper edge where wonder spikes into panic. The arrangement blossoms with restrained urgency, everything pitching and bending but still clinging to celestial rails. More than just an isolation-based experiment, this one’s a keeper. 

You can preorder The Co-Isolation Sessions now (donate $20 or more for a chance to win the entire Suah Sounds catalog on LP and CD), and listen to “State of Wonder” below:

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at

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