Review of Somi [12k1087]

Anhedonic Headphones (Blog)

Last Friday, Bandcamp was donating its share of profits from sales to the American Civil Liberties Union, in an effort to assist in undoing the damage currently being done by the presidency of Donald Trump. Because of this, many artists also chimed in, either donating a portion of their sales to the same cause, or to other anti-Trump initiatives.

Because of this, I felt like I just needed to download something from Bandcamp. But god damn, there is a lot of garbage out there, isn’t there? I’ve made the mistake of getting sucked into a Bandcamp hole once before around five years ago, so I am usually a little wary of using the site now to try to discover new music. However, with $10 burning a hole in my digital pocket, I happened across a Facebook post from Federico Durand, who shared a link to the new album from Taylor Deupree, musician, and label head of 12k.

And after sampling bits and pieces of Somi, I knew I had found something to plunk down my money on.

A meditation of sorts, Somi is hypnotic, comforting, and unsettling, and its fragile, quiet, and bittersweet qualities draw to mind comparisons to the one-off album from Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi Birgisson and his partner Alex Somers, Riceboy Sleeps.

Somi, like many strongly constructed ambient and experimental releases, draws myriad emotional reactions from the listener. Pieces like “Minism,” “Fenne,” and “Autum” unfold slowly with a gentle, evocative wonder to them as Deupree carefully constructs imperfect loops that rise and fall throughout each track.

In a startling contrast to those soundscapes, the titular track, as well as “Slown,” “Evode,” and “Aoka” all work to unnerve, with Deupree crafting a at times ominous dramatic tension.  Despite that, though, they are no less listenable.

I think it goes without saying that Somi is the kind of album one can easily get lost in. The misunderstanding about ambient or experimental music is that it’s just something to put on in the background—that it is not “active listening.” I would disagree. Somi is an album that doesn’t seem like it would demand a lot out of you as a listener, but the longer you involve yourself with it, the deeper into it you fall, getting caught up in emotions and memories evoked by Deupree’s warbled and at times whimsical compositions.

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