Having unleashed music from producers spanning multiple continents in 2021; (from China to Hungary to Mexico to Greece...), Infinite Machine is poised to release the sophomore EP from the Moscow-via-Montreal producer Softmatter - entitled Hyle. Anna Pavlova, aka Softmatter, is an artist and vocalist whose output is characterised by twisted and distorted electronics, heavy-hitting drumwork and mutant vocal samples. With a keen interest in post-human theory, neuroscience and quantum physics; her musical practice explores the fluidity and uncertainty of experience and perception. In Anna’s own words “When I begin the creative process without expectations and embracing uncertainty, I get results that represent me the most.”
Hyle EP opens up with Levity, a track that’s equal parts unnerving and beautiful. Underpinned by bassy snarls and percussion that clicks and whirrs like a demonic ticking clock, Softmatter delivers lyrics (in both English and Russian) that revolve around self-acceptance and a refusal to let the judgements of others affect this self-conception. “Throw your shade if that’s your thing while I am moving freely. Don’t be so sure your expectations carry little weight here.” The icey, affected vocals and the densely layered beat they glide over on Levity seem to acutely pair up Softmatter’s love of both witch house artists like Salem and contemporary innovators like Fatima Al Qadiri and Aisha Devi. Whilst these references are very much on display, Levity still sounds utterly unique and sees Softmatter operating in her own lane.
Whilst the vocals on Levity are basically another layer of sound design in the mix, Softmatter’s voice takes centre stage on the following track, Morphe. The tracks refrain (“Reaching a new high, blood rushing through my vessels”) seems to tap into the euphoria depicted on the EP’s artwork, where we see a light-carrier bringing illumination into the uncertain darkness, providing realignment and acceptance to self. Woven in-between these pitched vocals is a driving, deconstructed beat full of idiosyncratic sonic surprises.
Rounding off Hyle EP, Who Am I 2 U is a ferocious and moody track whose intensity grows and swells over it’s duration. A nightmarish array of guttural samples and snatched synths groan whilst Softmatter sings of how we perceive and connect to each other as individuals; “Am I means to your goals or you see me as an equal? Who am I to you?”
Jumping from rigidity to fluidity, from otherness to unity, from controlling the immaterial to dancing with uncertainty; Softmatter’s Hyle EP packs a mighty punch built on an intriguing conceptual framework and crammed full of bold musical ideas.