Sophie Hutchings

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Becalmed Review

by Ned Raggett

The debut full-length release by Australian performer Sophie Hutchings, based on compositions written at the age the title of the first song, "Seventeen," indicates but recorded some time later, is a blend of solo piano pieces and quiet, irregular accompaniment by a variety of performers, creating something that, in sound and overall aesthetic, seems to be inspired as much by the ECM label as the artwork by Mark Gowing is. "Seventeen" itself moves from quiet contemplation to swift melodic overlays, a good setting of tone for the remainder of Becalmed. The additional instrumentation adds sometimes striking depth and atmosphere to the already moving compositions -- the blend of violin and cymbal washes on "Sunlight Zone," the solo violin on "Following Sea," and the dank guitar tones in a Glenn Branca style on "After Most." "Portrait of Haller," which moves from a quiet start to a suddenly triumphant ending, almost has the quality of a less echo-laden Dif Juz song, but more appropriate in feeling is the concluding "It Remains," soft rolling piano and distant drums setting aside a final, melancholic violin part, a lovely conclusion to a quietly accomplished first effort.

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