Thembi Soddell – Love Songs (Room40)


It grows. Something grows. I’m starting to think that it might be challenging to put this into words. There is monotony, as if the track is trying to get my attention to focus on just one thing. But what? Vague machine-like reverberations float around this evolving sound structure. What does it make me think of? As I make this new question, it turns lacerating, but I wouldn’t be able to spot something in particular that is being lacerated. There are hints of sounds tingling around, and it feels cathartic. How many meanings can the term ‘intense’ have? How many questions will surface throughout this ride? In which other ways is this going to provoke me? It suddenly stops.

Wind sounds initiate the structure, as a sudden noise makes the heartbeat increase. It stops. It creates spaces inbetween sounds. It fades.

It starts with suspense, it grows again. A turbine-like reverberation begins, and stops. A gap of silence, and then the leaving procedure continues. OK, this time, there might be some terror involved. Then, a wall of sound.

There is expectation. Rainy sounds fall after a thunder of noise. Again, the process of a sudden silence followed by a fading away sound comes back. I wonder what’s in that gap of silence that makes the noise go away. In which ways is this questioning me?

The epilogue seems to mark a switch in the structure of the composition. Starting with intentional void, strong and uncomfortable sounds leave the listener out of place. As it revolves, it also decreases. A murmur hints here and there. The structure rises, and it stops.
Hailing from Clunes, a small Victorian town in Australia, Thembi Soddell introduces herself as a sound artist, electroacoustic composer and practice-based researcher with an interest in psychology, perception, extreme emotion and the subjectivity of experience. A PhD candidate, her research is focused on the articulation of firsthand experiences of mental illness and psychological distress in sound art practice.

‘Love Songs’, her latest work published on the Australian imprint Room40, is provoking above everything else. WIth just a handful of remarks I tried to convey a complex spectrum of reactions into words. Same as her use of musique concrète techniques, erasing sound distinctiveness until it’s own identity transforms and turns unrecognizable, an unidentifiable response arises from the subconscious while listening to it. You might not always be prepared for it.

I’m still trying to decide which way the listening experience fulfills the brain on a deeper level, if closing the eyes (Thembi actually performs in total darkness), or watching the surreal videos by Vanessa Godden that were made for the release. Closing the eyes I would be in front of my own subconscious and facing the consequences, with the videos I’d be witnessing a torment that seems to have come from a young and inspired David Lynch.

Thembi Soddell – Object (im)Permanence from ROOM40 on Vimeo.


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