The evolution of the new indie hip hop scene has thrown another curve ball with the atmospheric and melodic new album by Canadian songwriter soso.
Soso’s new album, “Tinfoil on the Windows” weaves the listener through mellow, but interesting musicianship with lyrics and vocals telling tales of personal observations on society and interpersonal relationships.
The album begins with a ten minute epic track called “Rubber Rings” which rises slowly from audio of nature noises into sparse synth, Pink Floyd-like slide guitar noises and piano melodies that are eerie enough to belong in a David Lynch film.
After three minutes of the beautifully haunting instrumental, soso’s voice emerges with melodic poetry of various observations of the society around him. There is a feeling of disappointment of the world he sees, which he contrasts with the feeling of loss as a child waiting for his father to come home.
“Rubber Rings” breaks into even more musical madness toward the end, when there is a toy music box solo break just before the track starts to fade as quietly as it came in.
The song “All the Useless Things These Hands Have Done” is another impressive track that eases the listener in with slow chord progressions, quiet samples and computer beeps.
Here soso’s poetic talents shine very well, with pessimistic quips that bite, but do not leave the listener hopeless. The lyrics “The absence of suffering is often mistaken for happiness” perhaps nail down a feeling that took Kurt Cobain three albums to get across in one swell swoop.
“For a Girl on a Faraway Hill” is the eight-minute finale of the album. It opens with what sounds like clogs clomping a sad solo dance with off-key vocals buried under thick layers of distortion.
The lyrics are a depressing observation of a relationship ending without words having to be spoken. These reflective words are spoken over distorted synth lines and depressing piano key tickles and followed with more buried vocals repeating “Those days are over now” like an anthem for not looking back.
Soso’s vocals and lyrics are matched in their beauty and mellow intensity with the music generated by musician Maybe Smith. The musicianship shown is incredible, mixing acoustic and electric guitars with various found sounds sampled and beats that are at times mellow, but then explode without warning.
“Tinfoil on the Window” is quite an eloquent record. The music rises to pivotal peaks of intensity and comes down as spacey as it rose. It doesn’t set out to be weird for the sake of being weird; in fact the odd samples and lyrics blend well into one another without leaving the listener feeling awkward.
The album avoids imposing itself in one’s face. It invites the listener in and allows room to breathe among the layered tracks. It is definitely worthy of many listens on the headphones to pick up on aspects one might miss the first few times through.
– J. Froemming, University Chronicle
January 24, 2008