As Syko Friend, Sophie Weil’s soundscape poetry tends towards gritty, unpolished darkness. Past releases, including last year’s Fly Canyon, managed to let in a little light with shorter tracks that balanced out the cavernous depths of her more extended sonic workouts. On her latest release, Angel’s Ride, those glimmers of sunlight are blotted out, eclipsed by the revolving shadows that are her two lengthy, scorched-earth improvisations.
The menacing “Cherry Eyes” is the first of the two, building from a shimmering, drone-y introduction that seems to mimic buzzing bagpipes, into a churning, metallic slog; snippets of melody jut out like handholds for the listener to cling to as we stumble along through the night. It occasionally recalls fellow ambient mystic Grouper, but Weil’s music project is devoted less to eerie, gloomy musing. Wielding her fuzzbox like a knife, Syko Friend’s guitar work often calls to mind the bleak, Canadian post rock outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor in its moody, slightly Western twang.
“Rachel,” the second offering, takes the form of an extended ballad, riding distant, ghostly arpeggiations that allow Weil’s voice to move closer to center stage. Even still, the compounding echoes smooth out her articulations to the point of reducing them to waves of melody in a state of constant disintegration. Weil keeps the windows shuttered again, only allowing the faintest touch of sun—a warm bath of synthesizers—to bubble in at the very last second.
For those willing to submerge themselves in murkier waters, Angel’s Ride is a gentle float in a sensory deprivation tank. Suspended in total darkness, the vibrations humming around you are a soft massage for the senses.