Sofia Aarvik takes a Japanese theme in this, her debut EP. The title track is ‘Kintsugi’ (It’s Over’).
It’s one of those mysterious words and phrases the Japanese have which even they don’t properly understand, like wabi sabi, which has more interpretations than Hamlet.
Fundamentally, Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold, thereby being a metaphor for embracing your own flaws and imperfections and even making them ‘beautiful’.
Here she expands it out to consider how we are adept at covering up parts of ourselves in relationships – parts that are actually crucial to who we are but which we may not wish to have known publicly. As we sense that these parts are not welcomed by the other person we unconsciously hide them.
But those un-owned, abandoned parts tend to be felt and might result in a breakup anyway. Accordingly, we are then freed up, encouraged, to take a closer examination of them – and hopefully to realise that they really are treasures. When we own these parts and honour who we are, we can meet someone who does the same. This is the theme of ‘Kintsugi’: effectively self-love.
(Incidentally, I won’t say what Mr Google translates the ‘Norwegian’ word Kintsugi to in English, as I accidently asked it to do, let’s just say that it’s a tad stronger than pottery mender!)
I wrote last time that Sofia classes herself as ‘soul/pop with a Nordic twist’ and that whenever I come across that phrase, I tend to think ‘melancholy’. Also that while there is melancholy in her work, both the previous one and ‘Kintsugi’ seem to have an underlying theme that is much more positive in its outlook, as if that golden Locktite really does work wonders. “Nothing’s ever truly broken” as she insists.
“It hurts, it hurts, ’cause he didn’t appreciate the treasure that lies in me” she wails.
And in any case I don’t know how any song can be truly melancholy with a battery of trap beats.
Musically, it’s a slightly strange song in that it is R&B but contained with a Japanese theme or framework. It’s hard to describe quite what I mean by that but there are quite a few oriental ‘images’ thrown in such as elongated chime sounds, and a brief random male vocal that sounds like it came out of a martial arts film.
Sofia ‘orientalises’ the track subtly in a similar way to how Emmy the Great did it on her album ‘April / 月音’.
She says “This EP has felt healing for me to write and record. I got to process a breakup through writing, and when I felt cut off from the outside world and from love, I found a home to myself again through creating.”
Perhaps it will help fix you. Give it a listen.
‘Kintsugi’ is available now via So Music.
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