FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s March 2021 review for New York City Jazz Record’s Women’s History Month Issue.
The surreal, apocalyptic musical offering End of Softness is the second collaboration between vocalist Amirtha Kidambi and sound artist Lea Bertucci. The album is comprised of carefully woven musical shards from their debut album Phase Eclipse and a live performance the duo reworked and retexturized in order to create this new collection of darkly-themed songs.
End of Softness is an artistic illustration of the end of days and patriarchal-induced confusion and decimation erected and produced during Kidambi and Bertucci’s personal isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be assumed that the stark collaborative readjustment was a deeply embedded source of inspiration as the tracks are heavily coated with sounds of empowered desperation, resulting in a kind of freedom that can only be earned through perseverance and ingenuity during this time of global loss.
The album opens with “Siren Call”, reimagining the powers of the mythological water beings who entranced unassuming sailors with their eerie feminine singing, causing them to shipwreck on the three islands of Sirenum scopuli. Kidambi’s voice is layered and looped by Bertucci into transcendental sounds of beauty and chaos. “False Profits” is a darkly fanciful sonic collection of breathy vocals and speaking voices mixed and rearranged into a swirling, fast-paced and high-pitched piece of sound art purposely created to overwhelm and disorient the listener. “Alter of Time”, “Must I Burn?” and the title track continue to drive the listener through a journey of death, pain and rebirth as the duo creatively orients songs into stealthily, yet heavily produced vocal tracks that twist further and further into bleak historical themes of mysticism and the terrorization and assault on feminine power. “Hysteric Arch”, “Destroying Angel” and ‘Epilogue” (only on the digital release) end the album with Bertucci manipulating, molding and encapsulating every morsel of Kidambi’s voice into electronically disorienting illustrations, seamlessly closing the black hole of sound and despair.
This album is not for the faint-hearted. It can be considered an art piece of intentional doom that does not pacify the listener by placing a flowery incantation of softness and healing. It is the End of Softness and offers the sharp edges of reality and uncomfortable themes explored by these two brave experimenters.