anthea caddy and thembi soddell
Phosphor Magazine Issue 122
A new album from Cajid Media, in which cello and sampler fight for the listener's attention. This album offers an intense co-operation between Melbourne-based Thembi Sodell and cello player Anthea Caddy. Thembi Soddell's signature is obvious during this album. The climaxes followed by sudden quietness or backdrops, plus the slow built up of minimal sound. The cello has been incorporated perfectly, enriching the electronic atmospheres by means of an improv way of playing. These female musicians have found each other and deliver a strong, convincing and excellent product.
Bob Baker Fish
About twelve months ago this writer witnessed a collaboration between cellist Anthea Caddy and sound artist Thembi Soddell closing one of the nights at the Now Now improvised music Festival in Sydney. Immediately the mood of the night changed, Soddell's dark soundscapes immersing themselves around Caddy's textural scraping of her cello. It felt more theatrical than some of the previous performances, the lights darkened and the duo seemed to be improvising less around technique and more around mood. It was haunted house improvisation, gothic experimentalism as Caddy personified the creaking floorboards, the rising tension whilst Soddell embodied some kind mischievous yet immensely powerful presence. Iland is their subsequent release and it continues in that dark vein, immediately apparent in the dark minimal packaging, and the initial dramatic sweeps of cello and ghostly electronic accompaniment via Soddell's sampler.
Caddy delights in torturing her cello, scraping sometimes mournfully, sometimes violently across the strings, overwhelming the listener texturally with her extended technique. Soddell utilises treated field recordings to fill the space around her and to subtly alter our experience via tonal manipulations. Of course she also not so subtly alters our experiences via her penchant for rising crescendos and abrupt ruptures as well as extended excerpts of silence. Techniques she has previously utilised to great effect on her two previous solo releases where she repeatedly explored the violence and suspense of dynamics.
Though Soddell retains control of the mixing, Caddy's presence offers more than a textural counterpoint. The sounds the two utilise do feel incredibly enmeshed, the sense of space feels more dramatically realised and there is a certain controlled minimal aesthetic, where the two seem to be using the bare minimum range of sound and textures, which they dutifully explore before moving on to the next.
Anthea Caddy is a cello player who has worked with Darrin Verhagen and François Tetaz; she exploits unconventional surroundings to bring out the most hidden colours of her instrument, which she's able to transform into creatures that growl, howl and moan while looking for a far corner of their short lifespan to affirm their unpredictably menacing attitude. Thembi Soddell, here featured on sampler, uses both field recordings and abstract sounds to develop splendid textural backgrounds and surprising outbursts of unusual timbres, only to suddenly disappear leaving room to a disquieting faraway urban hush. The thirty minutes of "Iland" are highly impressive, in that the fusion of these different kinds of electroacoustic presage cracks our fake tranquillity, dragging us into an uncertain kind of awareness that doesn't admit the presence of danger but at the same time almost expects it with unpronounceable pleasure. By alternating movement and stasis, Caddy and Soddell manage to express an otherwise undefinable sense of inner connection with something that resembles the various phases of a nightmare, but one that - one way or another - has an happy ending.
Like all of Soddell's compositions to date, the soaring dynamic shifts in volume, texture and density are the key to her strategies. A one-time student of Philip Samartzis, whose influences can be heard in Soddell's attention to spatial shape and sonic detail, lIand bears a more lateral approach to composition, with Caddy's influence recasting and redirecting the listener's focus. The contrast of Soddell's simmering cinematic moods against Caddy's ferociously animalistic cello strikes is nothing short of jarring, but it's in this juxtaposition the duo's potential is maximised.
CD REVIEW FROM VITAL WEEKLY 550
ANTHEA CADDY & THEMBI SODDELL - ILAND (CD by Cajid Media)
Excerpt from "Impro: Ethical, Musical and Now" Review of The Now Now Festival in Sydney Jan 2006 by Shannon O'Niell taken from Realtime Arts:
"The final act of the night was Thembi Soddell on sampler and Anthea Caddy on cello. Soddell has attracted much praise for her visionary and dynamic electroacoustic work. Given that some of her sounds are derived from processed cello, there was much interest in how she and Caddy would sound together. The audience was immediately transported to a haunted cavernous space, like some post-apocalyptic bunker. The scraping, screeching, creaking and crackings emanating from Caddy's cello had me feeling sorry for the instrument. This was the sound of friction, of machinery long abandoned but still attempting to function. The scenes kept changing, but one was left with a distinctly queasy feeling that something was not quite right—an enigmatic note on which to end the night."
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