Following her new album ‘Penelope Two’ for Fabric’s Houndstooth label, London based Antipodean vocalist, musician and soundscaper Penelope Trappes presents ‘Sonia’ from the deluxe visual edition of ‘Penelope Two’ – a 40 page hardcover 7” x 7” photo book with digital download link inside, along with bonus 5 track digital EP ‘Withdrawn’.
There is a semblance of calm strength and endurance to the intimate images of Penelope within fragile environments. Mostly clothes-free as a statement of freedom, purity, anti-establishment, as well as a comment on humanity’s consumption and destruction of nature.
Elements from multiple sources are subsumed by Trappes’ sonic presence; one hears Badalamenti and Julee Cruise’s work for ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Twin Peaks’, Slowdive’s dreampop, the scorched comedowns of early Primal Scream, Colin Newman’s dark melancholia, plus contemporaries like Tropic Of Cancer and Sky H1.
But to say this sounds like any of the above is a glaring oversimplification. It’s as if she’s sculpted her own pieces using only the reverb tails of other’s music, or has set fire to her record collection to paint audio pictures using just the smoke.
These distilled, rarefied creations take echoes as their starting point, with Trappes summoning swathes of tones, textures and emotions into something ethereal but also powerful, like an evocation of spirits. It’s also deeply melodic, with her intimate, maternally-tender voice floating in the middle of each three dimensional, womb-like sonic space.
The sound of recovery or comfort after damage, ‘Penelope Two’ offers an aural alleviation balm and post traumatic care. It’s reassuring, but darkness was clearly present in the recent past – seeped-in and hard to shake.
“I spent 2017 being an empath with two dear friends, who lost very close loved ones. One lost nearly her whole family in an accident and the other lost his partner of 23 years, after she gave birth to their third child. Echoing distance, pain, love and infinity – this album is dedicated to them”, she explains.
Eulogy, letting go of earthly bodies whilst love and spirit remain, questioning mortality and the cycle of birth-life-death are explored – as are predestination, existential crisis, connection to greater forces and overcoming the conduction of dark energy.
Light, love and the power of community are also extolled, with Trappes proffering that “deep in the core of our selves there’s a knowingness, almost an out-of-body sensation when a hidden message becomes clear and glorious. Love is the only sign telling us which way to go, in a chaotic and sometimes painful world.”
Penelope will perform the album live for the first time at EartH ( Hackney Arts Centre) in support of Leon Vynehall 8th November. Tickets and info available here.