Sodium Party is the perfect example of why certain releases are necessary on physical media. A concrete delineation between portions of Steve Nolan's score, provides tangible means by which one realizes the separation. Having to open the cassette deck, take out the tape, flip it over, reinsert it, close the door, and then press play – that's an act more substantial than flipping a record and dropping the needle. Somehow, Spun Out of Control has perfectly encapsulated the particular nature of Sodium Party by presenting it in a format, which would otherwise seem unnecessarily retro.
That's all a very lengthy prelude to explaining that, essentially, Steve Nolan's score for the film Sodium Party is of two complementary, but different aspects. The short-form explanation is that Side A beauty, Side B madness. Both are absolutely brilliant, and ostensibly divided into separate tracks, but the very nature of a cassette blurs those lines of where one piece ends and the other begins. Given that there's not physically observable delineation as one has with a vinyl LP, or the very separate individual entities that are digital files, one can only take each side as a half.
Initially, there was a set of digital files we were checking on to see what each track was specifically, but this honestly isn't the best way to listen to Sodium Party. It's so much more satisfying as two halves, rather than 15 tracks. The build-up on Side A results in a listen that's just so absurdly satisfying that to try and encompass it with words is just as equally unsatisfying. Suffice it to say, it's either the best way to come off a really rough night, or to start the morning after. It's like a warm blanket and a hot mug of tea, maybe with a biscuit or two.
Side B is every decision you've ever made that led to a throbbing head, gurgling stomach, and cold sweats. The tense build of the opening lets the listener know that we're not in a very different place than we'd just been, and it's now time to strap the hell in, because things are about to get uncomfortably bumpy. Whereas Side A was all warm and cozy piano, Side B is cold synths with sharp edges. Even the quieter moments have a strange growl hidden in their depths. This is terror in a way which we don't often hear: it's minimal, but out of planning, not necessity.
As we heard on Side A, Nolan can make rather lovely, full music. He's intentionally pulling back and reigning himself in at times on the flipside, so as to be able to really overwhelm the listener when he opens up the throttle and lets the music fly. It never gets fast, thankfully – that's why the sides are complementary, rather than contrasting. In both modes, Nolan is operating a slow burn, preferring to add layers, rather than upping the tempo. The more full these dark pieces of madness get, the more disconcertingly dissonant they become.
Spun Out of Control's release of Sodium Party does an excellent job of servicing Steve Nolan's score. From the two-tone cassette itself, with the lighter first side in white and the darker second in black, to the fantastic audio quality, to the minimal and effective J-card, this is a cassette worth owning and listening to as it was released. If you can get your hands on a tape, you won't be disappointed.
SODIUM PARTY (2013) / COMPSOER: STEVE NOLAN / PUBLISHER: SPUN OUT OF CONTROL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW