Astrid Sonne - Human Lines
Astrid Sonne has been playing Viola since she was six years old, however at 18 she became fascinated with digital composition. This change lead her into a new world of composing a la Anna Meredith or Caroline Polachek. This debut record Human Lines is a shows the through line from that classical training to digital production. Everything is constantly serving the whole on Human Lines, varied and disparate sounds. This is truly an experimental album both with the sounds being used and the arrangements. Everything is pushing the limits of what music, and what a song is. The thing is Sonne will reach points where the tones she uses are simply stunning but She will then jumble them up allowing the weird nature of them to really come through. She wants to explore through music, and take you along for the ride. "Life" really embodies that sense skittering and diving deep with these simple beeps. The pace becomes almost maddening creating this really alien sound to the point you feel it could be the score for some far off world. The first part of the album gives you the sense that this might be somewhat melodic but that simply is not the case. Human Lines has no allegiance to melody or beat, proving that time and time again especially on tracks like "Overexisting". "Overexisting" throws everything at the wall, almost literally, creating this massive structure of sounds that just dissipate and vanish at the end. Everything on this record is so complex and extreme yet it still manages to keep that level of human connection that all great music has.
"A Modular Body" is the first time we get something near a melodic song, occasionally dipping into a nearly vaporwave type of experience. That is the real magic of this album, that it takes things that really should not work and makes them shine. You are always expecting for Sonne to make a misstep or take you down a path that you aren't quite ready for but to her credit she never does. She has such a unified and beautiful vision that finally all comes together on the final track "Alta" where the viola finally comes in and we are taken on a gentle stroll as the strings bemoan in the distance. It is a picturesque track evoking nature and the feeling of being surrounded, such a stark difference from the other places that the previous tracks took you. You feel so many emotions while listening to this record and travel to so many places and really that is the power of music like this. It has the ability to transcend making you dance or making you feel love, it becomes much more about the experience of listening to the record and trying to uncover it's meaning. Experimental stuff is not for everyone, and I highly doubt most people are listening to it on the regular, but every now and again something comes through that is simply masterful and Human Lines is just that.
9.0 out of 10