Review: Sol Rezza – SPIT

SPIT has an unusual relationship with the natural world. While artists such as Chris Watson glorify environmental soundscapes by leaving them largely untouched, intervening only to apply the most subtle brushstrokes of emphasis, Sol Rezza transforms these soundscapes into drastically different figures. Yet her motive and message isn’t actually that far removed from Watson. This is still an act of glorification, and while the timbre of these natural sounds may have been rearranged until unrecognisable, the essence remains – SPIT is like the product of a renewable energy process, utilising nature in grand mechanisms of Rezza’s own making and channelling the splendour of the earth throughout.

And so, captured recordings of lakes, rivers and storms are morphed and re-used, transformed shrunken down from immersive atmospheres into the individual components of a much bigger process. The end result could be referred to as “musical” if this term didn’t imply a dilution of sorts; Sol Rezza doesn’t just cram organic soundscapes into the comparatively rigid “rules” of music, but more highlights the musicality that already exists within the natural world, mimicking its sporadic and reactive array of rhythms and tones by utilising the very sounds it is trying to imitate.

“Paradox” is an apt term to describe my perception of the record, as well as being the title of the opening track. Lawnmovers let rip and fly erratically like gigantic bees, while the excitable barking of a dog becomes strangled into gargled alien cries; all before thick electronic drones announce a transformation into some sort of warped concoction of marching band, guttural electronics and trip-hop influences. “Aerangis Confusa” features the most untampered field recording, with flickering bursts of high and low tones dancing awkwardly alongside a creaking pier, swaying gently above the slosh of water. “Revolution as a Loop” sounds like a techno track with each part ripped out of synchronisation, with multiple abrasive loops set out of phase – sadly it feels as though it outstays its welcome slightly, and is the only track that feels excessive in its duration. Finally, “The Cat” features harp tones tumbling like wind chimes both left and right, while the contorted chirp of crickets forms a constant rhythmic motif in the centre.

Sol Rezza is keen for SPIT to be listened to “as a journey: with earphones if possible, and in a comfortable location”. The music carries a sufficiently lively narrative to make this desired listening environment work nicely. Some stages of the narrative are a little less enticing than others – occasionally the record feels like it could benefit from stripping back to fewer elements, in order to place focus on the process that transforms the natural soundscapes – but even during these weaker stretches, SPIT succeeds in keeping its audience querying, guessing, and most importantly, listening.