Sophia Loizou ~ Untold / A Tellurian Memorandum

Sophia Loizou‘s Untold is the entry point for a much larger project that includes a bound book of poems and artwork, an AV show and a lecture.  It’s one of the most intelligent releases of fall, highlighting the relationships between systems by creating a system of its own.  One may move back and forth between facets, or zero in on one.  Biology and technology, nature and nurture, order and chaos swirl in the music and poetry, whose primary visual cue is the turbulent ocean.

Given such complexity, the LP begins on a surprisingly accessible note.  First single and opening track “Anima” is built upon layers of field recordings, softly churning ambience, and the repeated, echoed words, “I love you.”  The video zeroes in on tide pools as seen from above, but like no tide pools we’ve ever encountered; these combine natural and manipulated imagery, creating a mesmerizingly colorful collage of nooks and crannies.  While not representative of the album as a whole, it makes a perfect invitation.

Traveling further into the record, one is immersed even deeper into Loizou’s intricate sonic world.  More often than not, her voice is used as texture, ripe for deciphering, just like her poetry.  Rain – or perhaps waterfall or stalactite drip – flows pleasantly in the background and reappears throughout the recording.  The beats first appear on the second track, nestled in the neglected genre of drum ‘n’ bass.  While it would be unfair to call Untold a jungle set, the style finds new life in this repurposed context.  Simultaneously futuristic and retro, the blended timbre aims to capture something timeless, just like water flowing over rock for eons, creating steady, inexorable patterns of abrasion.

The other physical offering is Untold: A Tellurian Memorandum. This 64-page book includes stunning blue artworks along with a series of impressionistic, scientific poems and by an additional half-hour of music.  At first, the music hearkens back to “Anima,” but instead it travels into the experimental realm.  The five movements are best heard as a single piece and enjoyed along with the poetry.  Only in the final movement does the suggestion of tempo emerge, drawing the set kindly to its conclusion.  A sample of Loizou’s words:

Such decomposers of industrious temperament and agile
ebullient contours
Revel in this bountiful liminality
As emissaries of salubrious tellurian memorandums
engaged in geopoetic occupations that nourish these perplexing environs
Abundant reverence should ensue

A stark contrast lies between the complexity of the poetry and the simplicity of looped words such as “In your dreams” and “I love you” on Untold.  Is Loizou toying with expectation?  It’s more likely that she’s using Untold to cut through bone to the marrow.  Those who begin in her poetic labyrinth may never emerge, while those who enter through the wide gate may be curious enough to wander deeper.  (Richard Allen)

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