Image description: Soundcloud player of Glue and Return by Thembi Soddell. The background image shows Thembi in their studio looking at the camera with their equipment behind them. Thembi has white skin, brown hair in a bob just past their ears and a thick fringe. They are wearing a black faux-leather jacket, a grey and black patterned scarf and a grey top. There are two dynaudio speakers, a mixing desk, audio interface, computer monitor, midi keyboard, laptop and EMU-ESI 2000 behind them. There is an audio waveform overlaid on the image with a track length of 18:05
Glue and Return is a 20-minute performance piece, first performed at the Avantwhatever Festival in 2016 and later recorded and remixed for Ears have Ears: Unexplored Territories in Sound.
It begins with an extended version of a track titled The Absence of Inclination, which was composed by Thembi in 2013. This section was in part inspired by the novel Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen – a semi-autobiographical depiction of the author’s stay in a psychiatric institution in the 1960s. The sound seeks to embody concepts from the chapter ‘Velocity versus Viscosity’, which describes the “thickened perception” and variations in speed that can be experienced in states of depression and anxiety.
The work moves on to a section inspired by a poem by media and performance artist, Vanessa Godden, whose work explores the entanglement of their experiences of rape and racism:
I woke up broken,
You woke up smug with your scales,
All I could hear, smell, feel, taste and see,
Is this what it means to be a woman?
The sound extricates the energy of rage, pain, grief and lament for the history of abuse against women, and the shared yet isolating impact of this violence. It is built from samples of vocal performance by Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Emah Fox, Vanessa Godden, Jessica Pinney and Thembi Soddell, flute performed by Jim Denley, spoken word by Vanessa Godden, and objects and analogue synthesis performed by Thembi Soddell.
A section of Glue and Return is used as the sound design for Vanessa Godden’s video work, Churile.