PC Music: Sophie, A.G. Cook, QT
While PC Music constitutes a largely self-contained universe, SOPHIE has travelled a parallel path, appearing first on singles for Huntleys & Palmers and then Glasgow's Numbers label. Though not technically under the PC Music umbrella, his affiliation with the label recently solidified though a high-profile collaboration with A.G. Cook on a project called QT. It was briefly rumored that SOPHIE and Cook were, in fact, one and the same, but a photo of the pair on stage at SXSW suggested otherwise. Listening to SOPHIE's music, you're tempted to wonder, how could anything so breezy be so dense? Every cubic centimeter of his constructions is packed with detail—helium-huffing voices, tea kettle squeals, Skittle-hued synth leads, plasticized foley effects, beats that careen like weaponized Slinkies—but it's also shot through with an aching sense of emptiness, as though every sound were cushioned in the dread that it might be the last sound you ever hear. Then, after each heart-in-mouth moment of silence, there's that reassuring cartoon zing! and we're zapped back to life, back to (hyper-)reality. I can't help but think of SOPHIE's chain-reaction beats in relation to the spectacular explosions of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, and perhaps that's because collision plays such a key role in his music. The two opposed forces are, primarily, pop and anti-pop—the catchy and the cacophonous, the deft and the garish. Like the J-pop artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, whom SOPHIE interviewed for Dazed magazine, and with whom he's apparently collaborating, SOPHIE seems fascinated by the juxtaposition of the cute and the grotesque—or, more precisely, in the point where one becomes the other.