DIY community, rejoice! Sodada’s latest LP, Phase, is here, and completely written, recorded, mixed and mastered by Hannah Rose and Andy C, who have been writing music together since 2012.
As a whole, the album is masterfully crafted. The tracks are just the right amount of experimental to keep them interesting without losing musicality, and it’s clear that a lot of thought and effort went into making Phase—and it all paid off.
“Retrograde” kicks off the album with dreamy vocals and airy phrasing. Its mellow bassline, electronic tones, and sparse drum beats provide the track with just the right amount of rub to keep things interesting. While many songs would sound empty without more in terms of backing, Sodada shows their talent for placing things in just the right place in the mix.
“Ultraviolet” has a steady rhythm to it, a pleasant follow-up to the welcoming chaos of “Retrograde.” Featuring Andy C’s soft, psychedelic vocals that glide over the fuller instrumentals, this track has almost a jazzy feel at points. The bassline is melodious, a great match for the vocals. Although the lyrics don’t stand out as much as the pure audio of this track, they are still poetic and beautiful on their own: “finished all my gin & tonic / staring in the ultraviolet / project my life straight on my eyelids / no, come back, scream to the sun / dusk has hit, but still i feel so strung / can’t get you out of my head.”
“Feel It” returns to Hannah Rose’s sultry vocals, matching them up with a gorgeously composed bassline for a jazz-ballad aesthetic. The space between each note is clearly carefully crafted in both the vocals and instrumentals, a skill that many musicians overlook. For its sheer mastery of space and sound, “Feel It” reminds me a lot of Dallon Weekes’ music in IDK How But They Found Me—and is also one of my favorites of the album. “Feel It” may be short in comparison to the rest of the tracks of Phase, but it’s a must-listen.
“Strgzr” is on the more experimental side at points, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in technical skill: The bassline is well thought-out and groovy, matching well with little waterfalls of guitar that serve to enhance the higher end. Andy’s vocals continue to impress with perfect pitch, delivering the perfectly-phrased lyrics Sodada should be known for: “all this fussin’ / never got us anywhere / never made a new piece of rock for us to hurl around in space / free of want / feeling loved & heard & treasured / maybe we could try something new.”
“Interlude” was disappointing in the fact that it matched its name. While I understand the idea of an interlude in an album, I feel that Phase doesn’t need one. In fact, if “Interlude” was fleshed out into a full song, it would make the album that much stronger. While I love the funky rhythms and lyrics—”when the sun is rising / & i’m half awake / you make up the horizon / so tenderly, you call to me”—I want to see more out of this one.
“March Ascending’s” dragged-out rhythms and smoky vocals make it another must-listen in Phase. Everything about this track fits together like puzzle pieces that aren’t supposed to fit together, but do, making the overall picture even better than it was originally. The guitar stands out more in this track than others, which is a nice change from the bass being the star of the instrumental show (although everyone knows I love the bass!). “March Ascending” gives the album its quiet place at the perfect time, giving listeners a solid point for reflection.
“Carry the Moon” allows Hannah Rose’s vocals to shine. Although the lyrics of the track are few, they are well written and beautiful against the simplicity of the instrumentals: “i carry the moon / & i told my fate against a growing room / fair to say it was a page away from truth / to the mirror of your face / & the song you sing to me, is a different tune.” The combination of Hannah’s vocals and the mysterious, echoing instrumental lines builds tension in “Carry the Moon,” playing with the fullness of the track in an engaging way.
Looking at the lyrics of “Birdsong” is like taking a peek into a poetry collection: “swallow, sing me awake / it’s barely morning / how sweet you sound / as light surrounds us now / seep into everything / deep in this reverie / fragments of color-
/ in one ear, out the other….” The echoing guitar tones in the introduction feel poetic in themselves in their repetition as well. Although the song is majority instrumental, it doesn’t grow boring. Instead, the instruments sound like birdsong itself, as if Sodada had left room for nature itself to sing before Hannah Rose’s voice comes in. “Birdsong” feels very friendly, a refreshing four minutes of color.
“Lit Up” tells a story within its lyrics and instrumentals, as well as its vocal delivery. The tension between the sweeping orchestral tones and harder electronic rhythms provides a dark backdrop for stirring lyrics: “struck by lightning on the plain / in spite of all the fear, to feel, to fight /& dancing in the shadows brought the flame /
my mind was all ahead of me /that night / shelter sought inside a cave /i couldn’t rest my eyes so close to day / her hair was hanging low, her voice of grace / to make it down the mountain /& find my strength….” “Lit Up” is one of the most powerful tracks of Phase, and another must-listen.
I feel the same way about “Δ7” as I do “Interlude,” for the simple fact that I could see it developing into so much more. While both would be great fillers or transitions for live shows, I would love to see them expanded into their own masterpieces, especially with the beautiful bassline in “Δ7.”
“Nightsong” brings us back to the experimental roots of the record. With entropy fit for a black hole, this track is apologetically itself in every way: I’ve never heard anything like it. Hannah Rose’s voice is dark and breathy against deep electronic buzzes and twitching drum beats. Although I can’t see myself listening to “Nightsong” on its own, it is a great addition to the album’s overall aesthetic.
“Phase” is the title track as well as the final song of the album. After “Nightsong’s” chaos, it is utterly relaxing. Andy C’s voice returns with raspy tones and breathy delivery of Phase‘s last stand: “so : it goes / one foot in front of the other /in 2 worlds we’ve yet to discover / can we learn from prolix discourse when / it’s bleeding from the balcony
overhead / oh, sing songs in stride and sorrow /’cause, intangibly we fall apart / fall back together / love me, do.” “Phase” does a fantastic job of bringing the album to a close with energy and awesome instrumental lines.
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