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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Sothiac feat. Paul Jolly - Superluna (with 'phase 3,' vinyl release) (33Xtreme, 2022) *****

By Sammy Stein

I reviewed Superluna in 2020 after the first two phases were released. Now the trio - Pat Moonchy, Lucky Liguori featuring Paul Jolly has decided to release a vinyl version, with an additional phase. This is a good thing. Vinyl captures the sounds of this experimental trio somehow in a purer form, suiting their intricate, delicate nuances, which are more apparent.

Vocalist Pat Moonchy has performed across the globe as a solo artist and with various collaborators, including Tod Tobias, Alfa Neu, and more. Her activities with The Moonshine Pub and art, her study of shamanisms, and discovery of the tanpura are documented in my earlier review Sothiac feat. Paul Jolly - Superluna (Sothiac/33 Jazz Records). She and Multi-instrumentalist and electronic sound creator Lucio (Lucky) Liguori form an experimental, explorative combination known as Sothiac. They are known for their experimental creativity.

In Paul Jolly, they have found a kindred spirit, and since first meeting at The Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston, London, the trio have played together at several events in different settings. Paul is well known as a reedsman and free jazz advocate, playing in the incredible free jazz combo the People Band with Terry Day, Davey Payne, Charlie Hart, Tony Edwards, and others and supporting many musicians through the 33 Jazz label.

The previous release, Superluna, consisted of just two tracks – one of twenty minutes or so and the other of just over eight minutes, and for the vinyl release, the third phase has been added.

Lucky approached me with this release and told me, "The Superluna album was conceived thanks to the willpower to make something new when everything stopped due to lockdowns. The making of Superluna has been a synergic work that engages everyone in an inner exploration aimed at bringing the listener into another dimension where they could find something apart from reality. The work inspired us to consider the relationships of the moon with the Earth."

The trio worked with visionary artist Lino Budano who directed the Superluna video, which was selected to be shown at the prestigious art gallery San Vidal – an arts organization based in Venice and a biennial exhibition called the Biennale Venice.

On 13th February, Superluna was shown at the Victorian Wardown Museum on the outskirts of Luton, UK, and sold out.

Since Sothiac joined forces with Paul Jolly, the three musicians expressed a desire to continue their association once things began to get back to normal. Their next date is on 9th April at the Hundred Years Gallery in London and on 24th April at the Vortex Jazz Club for the Mopomoso experimental event, instigated by the late John Russell. The album is dedicated to John, and The Vortex is where the trio met for the first time. More dates are due to be announced soon.

Listening to the album again, phases 1 and 2 have lost nothing of their effect on the first listen. The atmospheric vocals, crazily developed sonic textures and spiritual essence are very effective and utterly engaging.

'Phase 3,' added to the vinyl release, opens with multi-layered sonic effects over which the vocals enter, Moonchy's distinctive tones adding even more atmosphere on top of those already evoked. But it is the bass clarinet that is key to the eleven plus minutes of this third phase, creating a deeply textured background, over which the vocals and instrumental lines glide and softly weave tones of sonic bliss. The Banshee-like intonations of Moonchy's exquisite voice are of such delicacy that they might have been eked from the mist. Percussive effects add timbres and cleave sounds from the very air, offering tonal contrast to the vocals.

The clarinet sings and sighs, its voice at times steady and sonorous; at others, it works in the flexibility of melodic themes which last for a moment or several moments – their placement intuitive and deft.

For this listener, returning to Sothiac and Superluna is something I should have done a while ago, and the music has lost nothing of the effect it had on the first, second, or third listen. Deeply emotive, evocative, and coming from a place none of us knew existed until the combination of this voice, this guitar, and this bass clarinet made it materialize for us.


Pat Moonchy -voice and sound art
Lucky Liguori­­-prepared cithara, guitar, and gongs
Paul Jolly ­­– bass clarinet

Out 4/1/22 and available for pre-order from 33 jazz records 33Jazz Records