Published 17 August 2013 by JT
Review written by Abi Bliss
The Wire 355 / September 2013
With the scope that it offers for shaping sounds into actors or scenery of a drama, electronic music lends it's self willingly to metaphor. Sometimes - particularly in works conceived with one eye on academic plaudits - this plays out as laughable melodrama or leaden farce , relaying heavily upon once innovative but now familiar sonic acrobatics , or drawing connections between sound and connections that are obscure to everyone but the creator.
Fortunately Jo Thomas wields metaphor with greater subtlety. The titles of the four tracks have a watery theme , yet it is unclear which way the allusion flows - are the sharp , glitchy edits and darting pans of 'Bream Choir' meant to evoke the momentary glinting of individual fish within a larger school or is the piece about the sounds them selves , there transformations best understood through a sub aquatic lens?
Regardless of the power of suggestion the album conjures up images of a chill , pressurised realm , whose borders are muffled and diffuse and where the world of detail shrinks to a few centimetres ' diameter . Thomas 2012 album Nature of Habit had a similarly contrasting sense of the intimate and the distant but Mermaids creates a more tactile , if still fantastical sonic space, where the echoing , popping sounds of the title track suggest bubbles rising to the surface in a way speaking more directly to the imagination rather than the laws of physics .
As with her 2010 Album Alpha where the voice became the basis for a Donna Haraway informed post human space , vocal sounds comprise the raw palette of Mermaids . Only rarely is this apparent . Scales features bovine groans that might be how underwater residents perceive human speech , while the richly glittering 'Earth , Moon And The Stars concludes with a ghost of a song . For the most part , however, Thomas transforms her samples beyond recognition, rendering them not so much half human , half fish as new and seamlessly fused mythical beings.
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Soul Vibration / Joachim Norwdwall Jo Thomas Remix 2013
Jo Thomas Entr'acte Mix June 2013
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Jo Thomas awarded Golden Nica from Prix Ars Electronica 2012'
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