Honesty Without Compassion is Brutality
Silicone Records (SR009, SR010)
Volume 1: December 20, 2019
Volume 2: January 20, 2020
A triad makes up the title of Soho Rezanejad’s second full-length LP, Honesty Without Compassion is Brutality, and throughout the album we witness the singer and composer arranging, wading into terrains of each piece of that title statement. Honesty, however, feels like the central ethos, what animates the album like a spirit or lit candle.
We become acquainted with Rezanejad’s voice in its many registers, sometimes pitch-shifted down into an unwavering masculine mouthpiece, at other points so close-mic’d that we hear her voice cracking, and soaring in a song like “Love’s a Raging Prey”, as single vowels are stretched vast across chromatic steps. But it’s not just the singer’s voice considered as a channel for honesty – the album is populated with birdcall, stumbling trumpet lines, robotic preset voice mailbox messages, a toddler’s utterances. All vocality is taken into account, which is compassion enacted.
Whereas Rezanejad’s last album Six Archetypes delved into the elemental characters constituting our psyche, this collection of songs rings with greater concern for the external world – a terrain defined by piles of obsolete telephones in a landfill just as much as waves falling upon primordial beaches. Imminent catastrophe is no stranger to us in 2019, and these compositions take all kinds of apocalypse into account – be it biblical, interpersonal, or an ever-unfolding result of the systemic degradation of our planet’s climate. The urgency of compassion underlies the album, almost a tonal foundation: as Rezanejad sings, “Animal, you do not fool me / I would remind you, that you’re no stranger than me”.
In compassion’s absence, brutality is all we can expect, and we hear a number of sonic landscapes on the album that seem to peer, honestly, into a future of exterminated life and machinated waste. But as a call to arms, or a celebration of love’s unmistakable pulse, or an admission of terror, Rezanejad’s brutal honesty can also be heard as radical compassion.