Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Betsy Soukup - This Disquiet

Betsy Soukup - This Disquiet - Release Party, Sept 20

Betsy Soukup's music is not immediate. It's something that blossoms and rewards those who can submit themselves to otherwise-unconventional percussive arrangements. What will be instantaneous is the mild bit of bemusement you'll feel when her ethereal voice bends and swoons into high arcing minor keys only to waft down with a suddenness into lower throaty baritones. Her bass can growl, purr, or become a drum. Her tremolos have profound emotional heft. A certain motif might hook your ear, and yet you'll realize you had to dig through two other instrumental layers to fully absorb that distinctive groove. Or, you might come under the spell of a song that's built out of a loop of four notes, craftily threaded into a minimalist melody, to support her enchanting vocals that seem to be addressing you, yes you, with the level of intimacy and intensity palpable in that voice.

You're entering a world, basically, made by someone seeking less-trodden roads of experimentation with musical form. Soukup is a visionary singer, instrumentalist, composer spreading her wings beyond the bounds of freeform jazz, contemporary classical and experimental balladry. Her charms would be opaque, at first, to any ears typically attuned to traditional forms of pop, rock, or jazz - but what's particularly captivating about her new album, This Disquiet, is how much she's able to unleash with alternating patterns on the bass, creating a sense of fullness with rhythms that can be frantic, urgent, languid or waltzing.

Soukup pairs this blend of unique bowing and expressive pizzicato with lyrics of longing, existential contemplation, dream-like diary entries and vulnerable confessions, coiled into poetic phrases billowing into alluring and ethereal melodies. It's an album that rewards the close-listen, those who surrender their otherwise preoccupied minds over to a music that can be literally and figuratively offbeat. There's something as precious and as powerful as an opera pulsating within the measures of this  music--as tranquil and as startling as a dream--and like the autumn--both stark and sublime.

Betsy Soukup
The Disquiet
Album Release Party
Sept 20
with Molly Jones
& Witchpucker

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