Sofie Birch Explores the Fourth World

Sonic postcards between Colombia and Copenhagen

Sofie Birch’s album Hidden Terraces describes itself in various ways. It is an “audible postcard produced in Colombia,” and it serves up “Remedial Sounds for a Forlorn Nation,” and it is part (volume two) of a series titled “Themes for a Better Tomorrow.” What it is is splendid, sometimes downtempo, often rhythm-less music that takes a very long time to arrive, and much of its pleasure is in the experience of that arrival: not where it starts or where it ends up so much as how it traverses the space, the continuum, in between. Those grooves, slowly and only in retrospect, appear out of an opening collage of field recordings, bits of spoken — mumbled, really — language, and tonal material that the ear might recognize as musical subconsciously before becoming aware. That’s “Morgenånder” (“Morning Spirits”), the first of the album’s two tracks (one is available for free-streaming, the other after purchase, at The second is “Vidsyn” (“Broad Views”), which is more expressively amorphous, beginning with the rattle of a wooden instrument before delving into birdsong, drones, and chanting, often at the same time. The album should have strong appeal to listeners to Fourth World music. The material was collected during a trip that Birch, who is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, recorded in Colombia. Now that she has returned, it’s the listener’s turn to travel.

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