Steve Nolan used to play with industrial rockers In Dust, but right here he is operating solo, providing the score to an indie film named Sodium Party. This is far from industrial or rock: rather, the tracks here are sweeping synth-orchestral works, semi-ambient and totally cinematic. Originally released as a cassette in an edition of 100 copies and now available on vinyl.
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- SOS003 / Limited split colour cassette on Spun Out Of Control. Edition of 100 hand-numbered copies
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The soundtrack to the indie film and dark fairytale 'Sodium Party' is presented here on a hand-numbered, limited-to-100 cassette with new artwork specially for this release. This is the sort of attention to detail we like to see; the tape itself is housed in a split-colour shell -- side A on the white side, the 'light' side of the score and the other side is the negative of that, white letters on black to represent the 'dark' side of the score -- thus also, very helpfully, mirroring the duality of the film's central character.
The score opens with 'The Beginning', appropriately enough, an eerie concoction of minor key synthetic string chords and a steady, rhythmic, one-handed piano line plinking steadily -- like an icicle melting and dripping slowly but surely into the drain. The tenseness of the theme continues on 'Green Arena'; there's a palpable sense of claustrophobia imbued in the piano and synth, although combining in a stately and not un-pretty way, synths percolating then building over the top. It's the synth strings which provide the atmosphere which is masterfully executed throughout; any sense of ease or calm is constantly reigned in by subtle but ominous tones. Even the piano becomes increasingly edgy and menacing, so that by the time track 4 'Sodium Theme' comes around, my stomach is actually in knots -- and I'm still only halfway through side A. I'm glad I had an early lunch today.
I'm becoming acutely aware how ridiculously well orchestrated and played this is; the music has an ebb and flow to it with surging strings and soft-to-loud piano harmonics which reveal an exposure to neo-classical manoevres as well as a knowledge of post-rock, belying Nolan's musical background and involvement with industrial rock band In Dust. Compositionally, the work bears favourable comparison to the best of Angelo Badalamenti as well as Clint Mansell's work. 'The Walking Day' is a pretty but brief moment of respite, with the short tracks 'The Trip' and 'Red Dress' heralding a brooding, otherworldly and droning conclusion to the first side of the tape and a slightly nervy calm before the... well, who knows what.
'Drift' opens side B with decidedly darker tones, I have to admit. A low, rumbling drone which never lets up gives way to disturbing synth washes and layers of building industrial hum; it's speaking to me of the psychological noise which inhabits all our minds, at times. 'The Walk at Night' is suitably creepy and I never want to go down that path. Drone, white noise and staccato bursts accompany the more long-form tracks which plumb increasingly murky depths. It sounds terrifying. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the film on the strength of this recording. There's a feeling of duality across the record; 'Party Bench' has pretty piano motif but there's that underlying synth ready to creep up and threaten you. At the end of the tape, the beast that was always lurking in the shadows has fully emerged into the half-light.
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