There’s a lot of silence on “Love Songs”. Rather than batter you with noise hammers right from the get-go, Soddell chooses very gradual fade-ins, or sudden bursts seemingly coming from nowhere… this mirrors the ways in which pressure can slowly build up in a relationship between two people, or how deeply repressed feelings can suddenly explode given the right trigger. Or perhaps these forms are intended to represent the “insidiousness” of the abuse that Soddell wishes to meditate on. Either way, the results are striking and unexpected: the silence increases the perceived aggression or pathos of the noise, while the noise attenuates the blankness of the silence, filling it with its own void.
1. Object (im)Permanence 2. Erasure 3. Repetition Compulsion 4. Who is to Blame? 5. Epilogue
While composing this work, Thembi was thinking through sound as a means to explore the felt mental impact of insidious abuse in intimate relationships and its manifestation as symptoms of so-called mental illness. This process is described in the Love Songs audio paper published in Liquid Architecture’s online journal, Disclaimer.
This work was composed by Thembi Soddell using sounds sampled from Alice Hui-Sheng Chang (voice), Jim Denley (flute), Emah Fox (voice), Cat Hope (electric bass), Martin Kay (field recordings) and Thembi Soddell (objects). It also has an accompanying book of concrete poetry, released with the CD on ROOM40, which can be purchased here.
Love Songs can be heard on Self-Titled Magazine, which also includes video clips by media and performance artist Vanessa Godden (also embedded below) and track by track commentary by Soddell addressing aspects of trauma, psychoanalytic theory (and by extension mental health care), abuse and the silencing of women that informed the work.
A performance of Love Songs won the 2019 Green Room Award for Contemporary Sound Performance. Thembi’s sound installation Held Down, Expanding is also a companion piece to Love Songs and was a finalist in the 2019 APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award for Excellence in Experimental Music.