Astrid Sonne – Great Doubt

Do you wanna have a baby?
Do you wanna bring people into this world?

Hope battles doom on Danish composer Astrid Sonne‘s new LP Great Doubt. It’s fair to feel trapped in this tension. There’s so much in the world to be in awe of, and so much simple beauty by which to be captured. But we’re also inundated with information that rightly ought to make us doubt our collective futures, and in turn would make most artists seeking sincerity or posterity to doubt themselves. Sonne puts these contradictions on plain display on her new record, and in doing so, gives the impression of utter confidence–anything but great doubt.

Sonne’s previous three records were largely instrumental; confluences of heady and often futuristic sound design and measured instrumentation. They were all terribly beautiful at times, but also sometimes bearish. They gave a sense of Sonne as thoughtful and self-aware, but maybe also a touch self-conscious or unfeeling. There were previous glimpses of something else among those records too — Cliodynamic‘s “To Change Is To Continue”, outside your lifetime‘s “Withdrawal”, or Human Lines‘s “Alta” were all moments that made me sure something much more fluid was at work beneath all the virtuosity.

The new record is so much looser than its predecessors, and it’s wonderful for it. Most obvious is the addition of Sonne’s words; they appear on much of Great Doubt, and they’re almost all full of such a welcoming tender unpretentiousness and intimacy. But I also get the impression that Sonne has become unwilling to hide behind a complicated sound palette. The sound design across the album is skeletal, and at times, almost naive in its simplicity (at least when compared to her previous work). This is a ruse, I think — there’s still plenty of care put into these sounds, but I think that’s mostly just a product of Sonne’s skill in getting at the essence of the recipe, no longer overworking the ingredients. I believe she just had the confidence on this record to let the sounds serve the songs, and not obfuscate her feelings with overthinking.

Great Doubt is out now on Escho. You can purchase it on bandcamp, or find it for streaming anywhere.

Astrid Sonne – “Do You Wanna” (bc)

Astrid Sonne – “Boost” (bc)

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