Melbourne cellist Anthea Caddy sounds at times like she’s tearing her instrument apart, using a variety of haunting almost violent non musical techniques that scrape, tear and tension her cello within an inch of its life. Host is her second album with sound artist Thembi Soddell, who uses the sampler to construct dense, often frenetic sound worlds. They perform together regularly at improv festivals and shows across the world, often mining the darker even primal vein of improvised music. This recording is no different. It’s abrupt, at times near silent, others violent and aggressive, but always austere. Right down to the near invisible cover art.
In her previous output Soddell has demonstrated a keen interest in abrupt cuts, in building noise and then contrasting it violently with silence and near silence. Here the recipe remains quite similar, except this time Caddy plays a highly textural foil to the dense skittering noise. Environment plays a very important role in this three track LP, having recorded in the Applied Acoustics Group reverberation chamber at RMIT, and other non-defined acoustic spaces, which may be a dam wall in the Victorian high country. Specifically the intention is to mine the relationship between an environment and the way it can create altered characteristics or distortions to instruments and sound. It’s this ill-defined world that the duo use as a metaphor for the distortions in perception or psyche and its relationship and impact upon the physical world. It’s a truly unique concept though how this relates musically to the sounds we hear on Host is a little unclear and at times the link feels somewhat tenuous. The sounds are dark unpredictable and quite tense, though as a method to direct the composition it’s fascinating, drawing out something almost primal. In fact in representing the psyche they’ve opened up something bleak, at times violent and always unpredictable, providing the listener with a simultaneously provoking and unnerving ride.
Bob Baker Fish