By Angie Lemon.
Many fine things come out of London’s Resonance FM including DJ Ritu’s A World in London, Debbie Golt’s Outer Globe and Jude Cowan Montague’s The News Agents and now, ‘Sorrow Soothe’, the latest project to have been born at the London Musicians’ Collective Resonance FM. Created by three very different composers who met during an interview at Resonance, these three friends are: composer, producer Esbe, writer presenter Jude Cowan Montague and audio engineer, Mia Kukathasan.
Just prior to the first lockdown in March 2020, singer Esbe visited Resonance FM for an interview by presenter, Jude Cowan Montague to discuss her album Desert Songs. Naturally they talked about songs and their creative plans for the future, and together with Resonance studio engineer, Mia Kukathasan, the seeds for ‘Sorrow Soothe’ were planted. Inspired by the desert, they named themselves ‘Daughters Of The Desert’, and the result is a collection of electronica vocal soundscape songs.
With Esbe at the production helm, ‘Sorrow Soothe’ was created by working remotely during lockdown, Mia would send soundscapes, and Jude, lyric ideas or musical snippets that Esbe arranged into tracks, adding lyrics, vocals and production. As Esbe says, “It was an interesting way to work - remotely, due to lock down restrictions - but musically intriguing for us all, as we each had a chance to explore different aspects of our creativity outside our usual work.”
The CD’s opening track ‘Sad Company’ features whispered, repetitive incantations, a sound that reflects the loneliness of desert life. A silken vocal lament of isolation sings in a landscape of contemplation and the hardship of what it is to be human, but in particular, a woman, “No-one can hear me, no-one understands my cries/ Wandering the dust, only the rocks and stones for company.”
‘Fetch Water’ evokes the simple complexity of survival and is a song for the women and children who spend their lives carrying water. On the title track, ‘Sorrow Soothe’, named for its relationship between sound and meditation, soft whispers cocoon a more cynical, but strangely hopeful, song, as if a spell is being cast. Electronic buzzing fades back and forth - the interference of technology delicately pulling on our internal monologue, and the strange voices one seems to hear in the shadows beneath the expansive desert night sky full of stars. But the poetry in music transports us to where sorrow takes on a less painful dimension. Music has the power to soothe sorrow, “The world is wind, a wind of change, Words of peace. sorrow soothe.”
Each of the three Daughters of the Desert have personal connections to the desert. Esbe has North African/ Middle Eastern roots and has always had an affinity with what she’s seen and read about of life in the desert: the remoteness, the need to be self-reliant and resilient, and the resourcefulness that's needed. Mia, whose family have lived in UAE, Oman and Botswana amid arid desert lands, was inspired by the routes that drove them in very different directions. During Jude’s work as a video archivist at Reuters, she watched many stories of how women and children in harsh desert conditions toil to fetch the daily supply of water.
‘Sorrow Soothe’ is a soaring and gentle collection that incorporates experiments in voice and instrumentation. Its songs, incantations, and pounding rhythmic beats are interwoven with strings and electronic samples. It releases on New Cat Records through Cadiz Music on March 26th, 2021.
Esbe is a Royal Academy of Music graduate, winner of the prestigious Julian Bream Prize for Guitar, composer, producer, vocalist, guitarist, writer and artist. She has released five solo albums in the past three years, producing from her New Cat Studio in NW London, all to critical acclaim. Her sixth album is ready for release and she is currently mid-way through recording her seventh. RnR Magazine: 'Beautifully haunting - positively cinematic - vivid soundscapes - epic - her voice soars'. www.esbemusic.uk
Jude Cowan Montague is an artist known for poetry on international stories inspired by her work as an archivist at Reuters Television News. As one half of Montague Armstrong she produced the charming out-of-kilter Hammond Hits (Norman Records) which presents her 'fearlessly cheerful' compositions on the T102 organ. She is the creator and presenter of Resonance FM's Saturday arts show 'The News Agents'. The Wire Magazine: 'Montague has a voice that's disarmingly direct, real and intensely moving'. judecowanmontague.com
Mia Kukathasan is a sound artist, radio broadcaster on Threads Radio and studio engineer at Resonance FM, and is one third of the experimental sound-art performance trio Cleaver Boi and The Hungry Ghost. Her work focuses on cutting up field recordings, found sound and the spoken word, combined with electro-acoustic live composition often using domestic or junk items as sound sources along with non-traditional methods of playing instruments, plus digital effects. cleaverboi.bandcamp.com