Uncompromising is a word that’s used to describe a number of musicians, but rarely does it seem truer than with Danish artist, composer and playwright Soho Rezanejad. Digging through her back-catalogue, both under her own name and that of her alter-ego, Angeles, is like uncovering a series of art installations crossed with epic movie soundtracks – as daunting, impressive and overpowering as a mountain range.
Born in New York City before growing up in Copenhagen, Rezanejad seems to carry all manner of influences in her work to date – from the synth orchestrals of Vangelis, the no-quarter given vocals of Nico, and the industrial, goth and post-punk sounds of various British acts of the 1980s. That sense of movement and diverse influences is also reflected in her latest album Perform and Surrender – to be released by the artist’s own Silicone Records in December – which results from a series of performances in Copenhagen, Vienna, Helsingør, Munich, Montreal, Toronto, St. Petersburg, Tromsø and Nantes across 2018 and 2019.
‘Half The Shore’, taken from Perform and Surrender, actually offers a notable change from Rezanejad’s previous work. Opening with a minute of strummed guitar, and gently picked notes that echo in an alt.country style, this is a far more approachable piece than perhaps anything Rezanejad has released before. The voice that follows is shot through with a raw balladic quality.
“Love without trust is a river without water”, she sings, “so don’t leave me”. In a sense, this is old in style and emotion, made new; an artist seeking a brave new front in more antiquated fashions. According to Rezanejad herself, the album was taken from “small scores, bits of stage direction, with performances special to each…” As this suggests, there is the hint of something slightly off-the-cuff to ‘Half The Shore’, not least in the vocalising that teems through the track’s instrumentation like sunlight through mist, around the 2 minute 40 mark. That said, and despite a sensibility that it is perhaps more organic than many of the songs on Rezanejad’s previous LPs, there is still a story being told here, and this is still a soundtrack, of sorts. “I lost someone very dear to me at the time” says Soho Rezanejad of the creation of Perform and Surrender, “All things…resembled a testimony of life and death”.
An album that is bathed in the rumination that follows loss, ‘Half The Shore’ is one of two tracks that prominently feature strings – the other is the preceding track, ‘Absence’, a violin-led elegy – and both sit at the album’s centre. Nature too, is hidden in spaces within the tracks: the songs of birds appear just at the close of ‘Half The Shore’ as it segues into ‘Hera’, for one example, quite literally dovetailing with but also acting in optimistic opposition to the album’s recurring aspect of mourning.
And what of that title too, just what is ‘Half The Shore’. Evoking images of cliffs crumbling and land being part-swallowed by the sea, the cataclysm that is ongoing but not completed. And yet in the phrase too is optimism – a sense of returning to land, a glimpse of something firm to come back to. You get the impression that, with Soho Rezanejad, there are no obvious or easy answers.
Perform And Surrender, the upcoming album from Soho Rezanejad, is out 4th December via Silicone Records.