Any seasoned enthusiast of psychoactive stimulants will tell you that the fate of an acid trip almost always hinges on the quality of your immediate surroundings. In other words, velvet curtains and shag carpet = good; curling linoleum and fluorescent lights = bad. And it’s likely your tour guide will also tell you the music you choose for your trip is equally as crucial. Jerry = good…and…uh, that’s about it.

Of course that’s not entirely true. Acid and electronic music have enjoyed an enduring yet distant relationship over the years and while the Acid House movement of the late 80’s and early 90’s had very little to do with the psychedelic drug itself — its name derives from the corrosive waveforms of the TB-303’s overdriven output – LSD nevertheless made its mark on rave culture by virtue of its lengthy high and accelerated ride. The compound’s dissociative properties were in many ways at odds with the utopian, uniting thrust of a DJ’s seamless mix; and thus, LSD was best suited to the fragmented self-discovery found in a quiet night with close friends. A bad trip, one that starts in a club, fed with agitation and paranoia amongst peers – the constant sensation of having your fur rubbed the wrong way — always seemed to end up inside a depressing apartment on the wrong side of the city covered in ick.

Many electronic artists make reference to acid, but few actually succeed in making their tunes sound like it.  SOPHIE’s latest single, “Hard,” out now on Numbers, happens to be one of those tunes, and never has a bad trip sounded so good. With its feverish tempo and a riff like droplets of cold sweat on dry skin, I’m not going to say it reminds me of the lauded peak. “Hard” compresses a long night of wild imagination into commatic bursts of Aphex-grade absurdity, wherein prickly trance, genderfucked vocal chatter, and cotton-mouthed rhythm all comprise variables in the controlled space of your mind. This is your brain on drugs.

SOPHIE is a true chemist, and each sample she crafts in her lab surrenders its inherent character to the leveling force of the pristine silence surrounding it, every blap and pfong like electrowon zinc choked from rising plumes of burnt oxygen. Not sure what she’s making in there, but I hear the high is bananas.

Stream “Lemonade” / “Hard” here, via Numbers.  Purchase the single on iTunes.


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