Wow. I can’t remember the last time a record affected me the way this one has. It’s an uncomfortable experience, and definitely not something that anyone would find themselves listening to on a regular basis but as a field recording specimen and stunning example of sound art, Sonja Henies Vei 31 is a must have.
Promoted as a deeply personal record that places the listener into the most personal of spaces, I bought a copy of Sonja Henies Vei 31 almost on a whim. Perhaps it’s that element of surprise which made this such an intense listen for me, and for that reason I almost don’t want to give too much away. Which makes this a difficult record to write about. What ever you read in relation to Sonja Henies Vei 31, it’s no lie that Ambarchi and Cole invite listeners into an incredibly private space. The listener takes on the role of voyuer in an uncomfortable and awkward way; we learn that real life can be stranger than fiction. This private (head)space is cleverly balanced out by an allusion to an outer, public space which heightens the sense of being privvy to something you shouldn’t be.
I’m curious about why Ambarchi and Cole decided to make this record. It’s a gutsy move that leaves them vulnerable to all manner of judgement. I’ve poked around the internet and can’t find much written about it. Thankfully both artists are experienced at making challenging work; a record like this couldn’t be pulled off by just anyone.
Fans of field recordings will definitely appreciate onja Henies Vei 31. Truly an unusual, and unforgettable listen.