Before Sonoluminescence is a four track e.p by Swiss multi-instrumentalist Sonja Roth.
This lo-fi offering combines sparse, haunting guitar arrangements with vocal chanting and lyrics reminiscent of Ana Brun or Martha Wainwright, thoughtful, honest and occupying a space in time that seems at once close and accessible, then far away and intensely personal.
The opening track, Sokrates Spoke, features a writhing guitar riff that extends over time, doubling and crashing in on itself as Roth continually asks ‘have you ever seen? Apocalyptic and epic, it build and ebbs around a recurring motif. ‘Crocodile Tears, follows, a light strummed guitar ballad, hurled breathy missives of loss and final partings. Snowman breaks the ice at the halfway point, injecting some levity as Roth sings a mournful dirge for a melted snowman only to discover him in the fridge.
Raining Flowers, sparsely arranged, is the highlight, evoking the yearning romanticism of Laura Marling or K. T. Tunstall. Roth pulls a Stevie Nikks style harmony for the chorus here that makes your hairs stand up. Sombre, baroque clarinet guides the track to a close to visions of April afternoons and flowers blooming. Roth is at her best on the sparser tracks, meandering guitar and the tonal qualities of her voice combining into something ethereal, something passing through.
Roth’s music is one of impermanence, images of flowers in bloom, birds and visions, things half seen or seen only for a moment. There is experimentation here, in phrasing and instrumentation most notably as Roth weaves together guitar lines, adding brass here, tinkling glass harp there, all the while juggling words, elongating syllables, defying the ears expectations. One has the distinct impression that there are more of these haunting, yet playful, snap shot esque offerings waiting to be revealed.