sophie hutchings Becalmed (CD, £13.75)label: Preservation
Becalmed is the debut album from this Sydney pianist. Having begun playing piano young growing up in a musical family, Sophie started writing properly in her teens; indeed, the opening piece Seventeen is named for her age at the time it was originally composed, though all on Becalmed have been developed and improvised on since their original form. Sophie's compositions move from disarmingly spare and elegant beginnings to curl out with a tingling edge, propelling its austerity into urgent and epic realms. Violin, cello, drums, percussion and organ heighten the flight these pieces can take as well as dip and swell within the more dimly lit moods of gentler nuance, casting a particular spell across the range of feeling captured in Sophie's playing. Both unfussy and exquisite though constantly evolving, the inspired measure of Becalmed is found in the space it inhabits between the meditative and evocative. Becalmed was produced in two settings, with engineer Tim Whitten noted for his continuing work with The Necks in Sydney and Tony Dupe, otherwise known as fellow Preservation artist Saddleback, in the tranquil surrounds of his former home studio in the Kangaroo Valley on the South Coast of New South Wales. Among other performers on the album is Sophie's brother Jamie, leader of longstanding Sydney outfit Bluebottle Kiss, and cellist Sophie Glasson, who has also recorded with Sarah Blasko and The Church. Seemingly from out of nowhere though essentially poured out from deep within, Becalmed is a shimmering, absorbing debut.
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