Sophie Hutchings – Becalmed (Preservation)


It couldn’t be possible to find a more fitting title to the debut from Sydney pianist Sophie Hutchings. It begins with her alone at the piano, utilsing space and resonance, and these highly emotive melodies that recall Michael Nyman’s Wonderland score. It’s beautiful, cascading in waves, pausing to recollect itself before launching again as she seems to wind herself up into a near frenzy before realising her abandon, and drifting almost self consciously away. The album was alternatively recorded by Tim Whitten, known for his work with The Necks, and Tony Dupe who himself records under the Saddleback moniker and has engineered a number of his lablemates on Preservation.

Midway through the second piece, Sunlight Zone, we realise she’s not alone, with some mournful violin drifting into the picture. However it’s not until a few more pieces on that the remainder of the instrumentation cautiously begins to reveal itself, with her brother Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss) offering percussion that sounds like waves crashing, and some peculiar vocal manipulations appear. It’s a sparse album, the cellos, violins, electric guitar, and percussion that pop up every now and then, all sit behind, and in service of the piano. Occasionally the pieces will lift in volume and tempo, and all the ingredients will jam out together, but in the main it’s a restrained and contemplative work, with these tender, at times vulnerable runs of notes that seem to plug straight into the emotions. Regardless of the bluster that exists in your day to day life it’s impossible to put this album on and not be immediately soothed. Then again she probably just named it all after a Brian Eno song.

Bob Baker Fish


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.