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Sophia - Seduction Of Madness

  by Peter Liddle

published: 7 / 8 / 2002

Sophia - Seduction Of Madness
Label: Cold Meat Industry
Format: CD


Powerful neo-classical concept release from Sweden's Sophia, which examines with frightening insight the differnet forms of psychosis

Well, to start off, I thought this release was from the other Sophia, a band who are a sort of doom country rock. When I put on this CD, therefore, I didn't expect to hear anything like what I did hear, and any previous knowledge I thought I had was, of course, for the wrong band. So, this review is, for me, very much an introduction to the music of Sophia (Sweden) and to the record label (Cold Meat Industry) which they are on. It's a concept release of sorts - Peter Pettersson, Sophia's frontman, was inspired to write music to describe a painting, 'Saturn Devouring His Son by Goya', and this in turn led to his discovery of a book called 'The Seduction of Madness'. More details are included in the linear notes and it's makes quite an interesting read. This eventually led him to create music based around various forms of psychosis. The booklet also has definitions of these and reading them while listening to the music, they do seem to correspond, like a soundtrack. The music is built in a sort of neo-classical style, with movements and interludes between the main sections, some of which are very beautifully arranged. There are several distinct themes in the music, ranging from an intense, frightening sub-bass choir chanting to soft string passages - you can feel the change between the 3 tracks on the CD as the mood slowly changes, though there are no gaps. The sound is like listening to an orchestra in a massive underground cavern - there are no sharp edges to any of the sounds and it's well enough shaped to be a continual flow. Except from one thing - the use of drumming, which seems to be a very prevalent feature in Sophia's music. As a good example, the middle of the second track has a calm passage with oboes, and quiet high voices when suddenly a very loud, abrasive drum beat begins coming in. Primal and ferocious it begins to dominate the music, and soon the disturbing chanting begins again, followed by discordant brass. This builds slowly but surely though it does take a while - it seems that the drums are representing the madness dominating over the calm. As the music continues, I became aware that I was readying myself for further attacks from the drums. When they came, they disappeared as fast as came, creating an effect of tension, relief and panic all in the space of a few minutes. Tense strings being scraped with the sounds of wavering flute notes give way to a beautiful choir arrangement at the start of the third track,though never leave the background. Left waiting for another attack from the drums, this music slowly becomes more and more melodic, until a sudden warning blast from trombones breaks in and then the very cleverly timed drums arrive. They come a few moments after you would expect each time, making it seem like you're getting away only to discover you're not. Behind the drumming is sparse, scared notes from flutes and blasts from brass, and suddenly snare drums and a menacing new string theme come in, leading up to more of that frightening chanting. Alhough these patterns are repeated throughout the music, I don't feel like it's a repeated trick as such -the music is supposed to represent these feelings of psychosis and even suggest feelings of panic and anxiety to those listening, and it works very well. The ideas and motivation behind the music over ride the more obvious thoughts of it being "scary". The well written notes and descriptions certainly helped me to understand the concept behind it, and overall the music was inspiring and thought provoking. It represents without words something that I wouldn't perhaps have thought about the way Peter Pettersson has, and I'm glad to have heard it.

Track Listing:-
1 Untitled I
2 Untitled II
3 Untitled III

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