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She Spread Sorrow - Midori [Cold Spring Records - 2018]

Cold Spring Recordings presents Midori, the third release by She Spread Sorrow. For those unfamiliar, She Spread Sorrow hails from Italy and is the moniker of one Alice Kudalini, previously known for her work in Deviated Sister TV. I reviewed her debut album Rumspringa a few years ago and was really floored by her deft melding of cold industrial and ritualistic power electronics. On Midori, Kudalini takes the template from the debut release (I sadly overlooked her sophomore effort Mine), but takes it in a dark ambient direction.

Midori takes the listener through a winding corridor of dark soundscapes, crafted through a restrained use of electronics and Kudalini’s softly spoken vocals (almost whispered at times). As with Rumspringa, there is a story being told under all the dark electronics. The note accompanying the album speaks of “a house that is the scene of fear and anguish” and “a soul that is lost in pain to an epilogue of death and purification.” Music for me, especially that which resides within the experimental prism, often translates into images in my brain. It’s a vehicle for storytelling, even in the absence of words or what the artist may have intended. It’s very akin to a cinematic experience. And it is with this mindset that Midori weaves a bleak and wicked web in my mind.

Sonically, Midori is quite ominous and dark throughout the 6 tracks that occupy the album. The opening track “Escape” sets the mood with foreboding synth tones, spoken vocals, looping glitchy chirps, and a minimal knocking sound. “Night One” ups the ante with a more destructive take on the former track. Repetitive destructive blasts fill-in as a plodding percussive foundation. Chilling chimes and some additional electroacoustic sounding abuse complement Kudalini’s whispered vocals. On “The House” humming synth drones collide with more eerie sounding tones as the ticking of a windup clock weaves in and out. “Who Are You, Midori” follows in similar order with the added dread of stray piano keys clanging in the distance.

If there is a counterbalance to all the bleakness present on Midori it is “To the Light,” which is the most hopeful track on the disc, sonically speaking at least. It’s rough in parts, but with an overall sheen of the angelic and ethereal. Lyrically it seems rather somber, but there’s something strangely uplifting about the sounds on this piece. On the final track “End of Midori” things go dark once again. A dull knocking sound persists along the backdrop of Buddha monk-like chanting. Stinging synth tones grow and recede. There’s a sample that populates the later half of this track that sounds like an Asian dialect, but it’s hard to pinpoint.

Midori is by far the most accomplished work by She Spread Sorrow and it is an album that will be on my mind for a long time to come. I’m still unsure of what Midori is in the context of this album, but if the sonic dread that Kudalini unleashes is any indication, I’m not sure I want to find out.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Hal Harmon
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