Up until this CD, SoiSong have been a shadowy presence, marked by rare concerts in Asia, special editions limited to one copy and password-protected Web sites. This confoundingly designed and packaged EP is the first above ground broadcast from the duo and, musically, things are as shadowy as their real life and online presence. Like any good collaboration between established artists, it is this combination of the familiar and unfamiliar that gives SoiSong part of its appeal.
Amid the familiar tones that Pavlov and Christopherson wrench from their machines, other less recognizable elements emerge through the mix. The opening piece, “Kabuki-Chop,” is the one piece where the music’s heritage is most obvious. There is a slow build up where echoes of Musick to Play in the Dark and Pavlov’s more recent releases combine to make a narcotic buzz before the music explodes in a throbbing beat ridden climax. As good as “Kabuki-Chop” is, it is from “Soijin No Hi” onwards that the EP demonstrates what SoiSong are capable of. Many of the tracks have a music box quality about them; delicate piano refrains and bell-like sounds prove to be fragile as they are ripped apart in glitchy explosions. Grit, grain and lurching beats are infrequent but welcome additions to pieces that sometimes veer a shade too close to being airy-fairy new age for comfort.
The title of this EP is only known to those who own the CD [or those who search about online] as the title is a password that gives access to a private section of the SoiSong website. Within the password protected part of the site are different edits of the pieces [shorter than the CD versions], the track titles and artwork for each track. The different artworks for the pieces are not my cup of tea [aside from a painting by Brion Gysin which is nice but not mindblowing] but the physical packaging of the EP and the disc itself are both worth mentioning. The CD is octagonal so will not play on car stereos, Macs or any non-standard tray player [despite Christopherson’s long interest in Apple products]. It arrives in a white criss-cross paper sleeve that completely seals in the CD. To open it, the packaging must be damaged, which goes against every rabid collector’s instincts. There is a way of opening it without doing too much damage [use a sharp knife to break the glue seal on one of the tucked in strips] but even doing it this way lead to some unsightly rips on my copy. Needless to say, folding it back up is a challenge.
One thing that was a bit of a kicker with this release was the price tag: £20 for an EP in “disposable packaging” might be putting some people off but considering how the pound sterling is bottoming out and how good the music is, my one recommendation is to raise a middle finger to the recession and indulge in this. On less frivolous terms, this EP is a taster for the forthcoming SoiSong album and considering Christopherson’s comments at Brainwaves, the album is going to be something special. In the meantime, this EP certainly has enough depth to keep me going until the album comes out. The four pieces are a solid introduction to this new collaborative project, the spark of a fresh working relationship is bright here and with any luck will only get brighter.
*** John Kealy / Brainwashed
Octagon shaped mini CD comes housed in a sort of origami folded special paper sleeve with an additional orange plastic sheet as protection.
That special package wrap must be brocken, somehow cutted or ripped for listen to the CD.
1 Kabuki-Chop 9:57
2 Soijin No Hi 9:06
3 Koi Ru 8:55
4 Jam Talay Sai 8:01