The Soft Pink Truth is Drew Daniel, one half of acclaimed electronic duo Matmos, Shakespearean scholar and a celebrated producer and sound artist. Daniel started the project as an outlet to explore visceral and sublime sounds that fall outside of Matmos’ purview, drawing on his vast knowledge of rave, black metal and crust punk obscurities while subverting and critiquing established genre expectations. On the new album Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? Daniel takes a bold and surprising new direction, exploring a hypnagogic and ecstatic space somewhere between deep dance music and classical minimalism as a means of psychic healing.
Shall We Go On Sinning… began life as an emotional response to the creeping rise of fascism around the globe, creativity as a form of self-care, resulting in an album of music that expressed joy and gratitude. Daniel explains: “The election of Donald Trump made me feel very angry and sad, but I didn’t want to make “angry white guy” music in a purely reactive mode. I felt that I needed to make music through a different process, and to a different emotional outcome, to get past a private feeling of powerlessness by making musical connections with friends and people I admire, to make something that felt socially extended and affirming.”
What began with Daniel quickly evolved into a promiscuous and communal undertaking. Vocals provided by the chorus of Colin Self, Angel Deradoorian and Jana Hunter form the foundation of most of the tracks, sometimes left naked and unchanged as with the ethereal opening line (“Shall”) or the sensuous R&B refrains on “We”, at other times shrouded in effects and morphed into new forms. Stately piano melodies written by Daniel’s partner M.C. Schmidt as well as Koye Berry alongside entrancing vibraphone and percussion patterns from Sarah Hennies push tracks toward ecstatic and melodic peaks, while rich saxophone textures played by Andrew Bernstein (Horse Lords) and John Berndt are used to add color and texture throughout. The album’s overall sound was in part shaped by Daniel hosting Mitchell Brown of GASP during Maryland Deathfest. Daniel borrowed Brown’s Roland Space Echo tape unit which he then used extensively throughout to give the album a flickering, ethereal quality. By moving beyond simple plunderphonic sampling and opening up a genuine dialogue with other musicians, Daniel left room in his compositions for moments of genuine surprise, capturing the freeform, communal energy of a DJ set or live improvisation session more than a recording project.
Shall We Go On Sinning, a biblical quote from Paul the Apostle, was chosen by Daniel because it describes a question that he was applying both to his creative practice and how one should live in the world. The melodies, jubilance, and meditative nature of album provides a much-needed escape from the contemporary hell-scape. The process of creating Shall We Go On Sinning, in and of itself, is the Soft Pink Truth’s way of championing creativity and community over rage and nihilism.