DIVIDE & CONQUER By Matt Jensen, 9/11/19

Sweet Freeze aka Kate Sattler is a musician currently residing in Portland, Oregon who released Permission about a year ago. The album consists of twelve songs which I almost felt were ambient vignettes in some sense after listening to them. Most of the songs are around two to three minutes long and build on an initial kernel of an idea.

I really fell in love with the way Sattler built her ideas. And perhaps most importantly I thought her vocals were really well done throughout the album. The album starts off with one of my favorite songs entitled “This Soft Eternal.” It revolves around synths, mild strings and delicate, fragile vocals. The song is melancholy and one of the emotions I think she routinely plays into well throughout the album.

Up next is “Scorpio Season” which has more of beat and has a number of disparate elements that really work well together. The song builds with vocal melodies which are panned in different directions. As I mentioned earlier the song builds rather than really transitions to another part with a different energy.

There is some very subtle and low hum melancholy on “98 in the Shade” while the following track “Storms” contains some of the most beautiful guitar work on the album. The album ends strong starting with “The Fleeting Beauty of the Bottom of the Sea” which is a softer, ambient track with very well implemented vocals. “The Separation” is hypnotic and meditative. The main groove which finds its footing and rides out the song is one of the best and most full I have heard from her. “Earthbound” is again very subtle and intimate but closes with some of her strongest patterns.

Sattler’s strength lies in her ability to link disparate elements into a fully interactive moving whole. You see this throughout the album and these ideas she explored are more related to artists like Tim Hecker and Fennesz rather than a singer/songwriter with a guitar. In fact if she isn’t familiar with these artists I suggest she spend some time with them to perhaps hear how they expand on ideas which can lead to a ten-plus-minute soundscapes.

I really like her aesthetics and sense of space. This is a case where I would really love to hear the artist go all in and fully explore her ideas on her next release. On that note this was a very well done LP and I certainly look forward to hearing where she goes from here.