Thembi Soddell - Love Songs [Room40 - 2018]With a title like Love Songs- you’d expect an album of mawkish, overly emotional, pleasing and possible lush songcraft- instead you get the complete polar opposite of what you’d imagine. It’s dark, jarring, unbalancing & often uneasy release, that blends together brooding ‘n’ building electro sound design, jarringly cut musique concrete elements, & overwhelming feel of unwell tension.
Thembi Soddell is an Australia sound artist & electroacoustic composer- who is very much intrigued by psychology, perception, subjectivity and it’s effect in relation to intense encounters with sound. Her distinct approach to composition exploits dynamic extremes, creating volatile, evocative sound experiences with a disquieting edge. She started working in the early 2000’s, and Love Song is her fifth album- the full CD release of the album comes with an ‘extensive book’ discussing the themes around the release, but I’m afraid I can’t comment on this, as we where just sent a CDR promo copy of the album.
The release takes in five tracks, and a total of just over thirty-three minute playtime. Each of the tracks run between five & ten minutes, but really this is an album to play as a whole- as all tracks follow a very informal often silence ribbed structure. And instead of focusing in on the bright & positive sides of love, the focus is very much the pain, panic, and sometimes mental unwell-ness that comes with ‘love’ state.
Though-out the album is constructed to make you feel uneasy, uncomfortable & sometimes panicked- as it moves from slowly building- then cutting out drones. Jarring cut field recording snippets, avant & darkly hued psycho ambience drifts, and twitch & sourly feast electro-acoustic improv. I’ve now played the album though numerous times, and it still unsettles, makes one jump, and ultimately makes you feel constantly on edge, ill-at-ease, and troubled. On the whole, it’s certainly a fascinating & cleverly structured sound journey into the less pleasant & at times downright unhinged side of the human condition. I just wish I could have seen the full package- as certainly with this type of release you really need to see the whole picture, and as it stands I feel I’m only getting around 75% or less of the releases full impact.
Love Songs is a truly uneasy, & at times generally unbalancing sound art release- that will changeling even the most expectant & heard-it all avant grade sound fans. I certainly wouldn’t advise this if you're just getting over a relationship break-up, but otherwise, it’s most worthy of one's time.Roger Batty