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Thembi Soddell's second solo release continues her exploration of dynamics, abstracting various sound sources, from field recordings to instrument textures, into sonic interpretations of her dreams. Click here to purchase with pay pal. Scroll down for reviews.


Track 7 [excerpt]- 3:01 4.1 MB mp3


Diffusion - Michael Day
The Wire - Keith Moline
Inpress - Bob Baker Fish
Vital Weekly - Frans De Waard

Diffusion: Sonic Arts Network
Reviewed by Michael Day

Melbourne-based sound artist Thembi Soddell’s second solo release, Instance, released on Cajid Media, is a forty-one minute work split into seven sections. Formed from field recordings and generated sound, it is described as an interpretation of the artist’s dreams.

It begins in near-silence, and develops into a quiet, but aggressively resonant tone before unexpectedly exploding into loud, intense crackles of dust and noise, and then, before you can really identify what you are listening to, it suddenly returns to distant, low level white noise, gently building into a dissociated texture of distant activity. Half-identified voices penetrate the dark like unrecognisable shadows, and as you strain to locate their source or timbre, brutal industrial sound startles you back into a more detached attention, forcing you into isolation from the humanity of the voices in the distance. Short bursts of layered noise, like hailstones or soil raining on a coffin lid break the growing tension, replaced by jet engines, a rising and maintaining of energy, cut into by drops in sound, like flashes of pure darkness penetrating a terrifying twilight. Twitches of black noise maintain this indefinite sense of shock and awe, of constant repositioning and disorientation, suggesting an uncertainty of perception, as if all this terror is being created inside your own mind.

The thematic here is the interpretation of dreams, articulated through the approach and retreat of threat. Soddell ably maintains a sense of fear and powerlessness by keeping the listener in a constantly shifting position in relation to the developing sounds. Sometimes you are jolted out of your chair by the sudden arrival of a terrifying presence, sometimes its slow approach builds a sustained tension that is only released by its unexpected disappearance. These audio apparitions are always ominous, alienating and fearful.

Soddell’s work with dynamics is extremely accomplished, alternately forcing close attention and then rewarding it with shocking explosions of activity that bring any absent-minded trains of thought right back into a brutal present. This strategy is analogous to the remembering of a dream, the recombining of dreamed events into a comprehensible sequence. The work suggests all the uncertainty of a nightmare recounted, with all its gaps and discontinuities of narrative. The virtue of this for the listener is that it will keep you on edge throughout.

Instance is the soundtrack to a descent into somewhere dark and terrifying, which maintains an atmosphere thick with the threat of unexpected violence. If you follow the instructions on the sleeve, and listen to it LOUD, it might just make you want to leave the lights on at bedtime.

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The Wire
Outer Limits, Keith Moline Jan 2006

Two unfussy releases on this new Australian sound art label. Hannan's debut is a five part piece comprising heavily processed location recording of industriqal sites. Churning mechanised repetition is the order of the day, Hannan diving deep into her source material. Whether the album represents a celebration or a critique of the machine, or perhaps even a valedictory essay on post-industrial decay, is anyone's guess. But it sounds good, as does Soddell's second release on the label. Its long stretches of near-silence are interrupted by thick bursts of noise whose provenance in field recordings is certainly easier to fathhom than the cello and guitar also listed as sound sources on the sleeve. The massive dynamic range of the album makes for distinctly uneasy listening. The work of Ilios comes to mind, but Soddell's work is more colourful, less unremittingly grey and austere.

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Fragmented Frequencies, Bob Baker Fish, Inpress No 890, 2 Nov 2005

If you love dynamics, then Thembi Soddell is your girl. She typically delights in subtle, almost intelligible atmospheres that violently erupt into, well, violence. And to be honest I', frightened of her, such is her capacity to erupt out of the blue, particularly after substantial moments of silence. She utilises white noise and static, field recordings and god knows what else to create these strange masses of sound that she manipulates, though the fact that her motives are so alien only increases the seductiveness of her work. Her second album is called Instance and is released on Cajid Media at

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Vital Weekly
Frans de Waard Vital Weekly 495

More music from downunder: this is Thembi Soddell's second release, following 'Intimacy' (see Vital Weekly 417). Soddell is one of the few female microsound artists I know, but her work can easily meet up with the best brothers in the field. Soddell uses an extremely dynamic sound: for minutes things can be utterly soft, seemingly with nothing happening and then things come to an explosion and they are very noise related. Again she works with field recordings but apparently also with instrument textures, but it beats which instruments that should be (the cover states cello and guitar). This gives this a slightly more musical edge than say the work of Francisco Lopez, to which especially the softer parts are related, and Kozo Inada, of whom she uses some of the very abrupt breaks in the music. Soddell comes up with a fine follow up to the debut, although no longer a surprise, still quite a nice one.

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$AU25 including postage (worldwide)

last updated 17/11/09
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