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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Gaël Segalen – Sofia Says (Coherent States, Erratum, Sofia, 2019) ****

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

I’m not a fan of music that tends to observe the past. Either it’s nostalgia, history, or memories; I prefer any work of art that interacts with the present in any way. That is telling a story for its time and place. Sofia Says, after being released on cassette from Coherent States early in 2019 is finally released on vinyl, bears the traces of industrial music’s past but it is deeply rooted in the present. This dystopian present we are all experiencing by feeling the strong reverberations of a planet getting ready to throw us out.

By using edited improvisations Segalen (an artist with a diploma from the prestigious GRM in electroacoustics) moves from a linear narrative up to small chaotic ambient noise bursts. Those are mostly noise experiments but, thankfully, not those boring droney sounds that we are so often exposed lately. Even though they are also a representation of the present…

There are echoes of natural sounds here and there that work cohesively with the, sometimes, ecstatic electronics that dominate Sofia Says. There might be five individual tracks on this release, but I felt that they pretty much relate one to the other forming a unity of ideas and thoughts about our pessimist perception of our present.

On the final and longest track, 'I’ll See You Again', which seems like the centerpiece of Sofia Says, this narrative of pessimism seems to break. Apart from its title which brings the light of optimism at the forefront, it seemed to me like trying to escape from this dystopia, with love and pathos as her guides. Now that I think of it – and after the necessary repeated listenings - I would definitely comment that Sofia Says is a recording that moves gradually from darkness to light. At least an inner light that does not necessarily reflects the real world. Sofia Says is a very strong personal statement.