Sophie Cooper – Labyrinth (Exotic Pylon) & Split tape with Ignatz (Tor Press)

‘Labyrinth’ begins with ‘Hello Sophie’ – a series of answer machine excerpts, a babble of voices introducing the album, appropriate as the tape contains a wealth of ideas spliced with unravelling string.  What follows is a subtle and captivating series of songs.  ‘Separate Join Together’ is a haunted psychedelic swirl of guitar melody and gusts of electronic interference, the vocals buried and swathed in soft echo.  ‘Lady Lilac’ has smears of synth and clicking percussion, resembling a time-lapsed street lamp, its orange glow assaulted by besieging night-insects; it becomes towards the end, a still and lilting ballad, sustained by a melted organ drone, snoring contentedly.   ‘Sexy, Sexy, Sexy, George’ is full of tape gunk and giddy noise; a tale of the remote admiration of George at various gigs.  ‘The Man Who Doesn’t Smoke’ is a great unconventional love song praising a partner who “protects my lungs from poisons.” 
Throughout, the echo and distortions sound like Grouper without the ghosts, at one point there is an unaccompanied voice blasted around a large resonant space, or perhaps excavated from a slab of deep dust-scarred vinyl.  Songs segue and merge with each other; a shimmering fugue collection of often intricate song-craft that is frequently dashed onto rocks full of strange creatures.  Equal parts sweet and caustic, ‘Labyrinth’ is folk music dredged from fevered cheese-dreams; brilliant odd-pop, ramshackle and charming.
Sophie also recently released this brilliant split tape with Ignatz; now sold out, you’ll have to trust me on its excellence.  The Ignatz side is full of melancholy guitar instrumentals, folkish and reflective; clear rivulets of sound tossed and bounced around, the occasional violent stab interjecting.  The tunes are sparkling and engaging, often progressing through a winding circuitous method, like a long walk through wet woods, pleasingly meandering rather than snot-caked Blair Witch lost.  In some sections, a more sinister tone intrudes, like some of David Pajo’s Papa M material; high twanging oscillations and a subtly troubling dusty ambience.  This is a tape for fans of idiosyncratic guitar music, tunes for remote huts with pleasant verdant days and empty uncertain nights.
The other side continues the good work of ‘Lanyrinth’.  ‘Once My Heart Was Blind’ is one highlight; a wobbling hymnal treat, it drifts and floats on wandering currents.  The rest of the tape is slumberous and hypnotic; vocals and guitars carrying you away on gentle gusts of distortion.   
Sophie’s Soundcloud
Tor Press here
Get yer copies of ‘Labyrinth’ from Bandcamp here

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