Tummyache is Soren Bryce’s chosen moniker for her alternative rock project and her new release under this banner, Humpday, is a five song EP with unabashed personal meaning for this songwriter and producer. Bryce has released music under her own name for the previous six years but a new label for her musical art does not alter its intimacy. She is in the midst of a series of live dates right now and the imminent emergence of this EP release has undoubtedly enhanced those live appearances with a sense of urgency and direction they might have otherwise lacked. She has filmed videos for two songs from the EP, “In Between” and “Median” – the former is an overt personal look behind the scenes of Bryce’s life, particularly as a musician, while the latter is a much more traditional “music video”, but both clips are successful in framing her outstanding work with compelling visuals.
Humpday begins in iconoclastic fashion. The dissonant guitar and echo-laden vocals opening “Machine” serve early notice that Bryce is a performer and songwriter who creates by her own rules and follows her wayward muse wherever it leads her. Drums enter the fray near the one minute mark and the track sets a brisk pace from that point on. The dissonance remains one of the track’s dominant motifs, however, intensifying and dissipating again throughout the song’s duration. The EP’s title song achieves many of its effects through accumulation. It begins as a spartan number, Bryce’s voice and simple guitar accompaniment carrying the day, before opening in scope as it progresses. The addition of electronic instruments to the song’s musical identity brings more color into the performance and the lyrical content is among the finest included on this release.
“Commonplace” is rife with musical tension Bryce keeps a tight lid on until the final quarter of the track when the arrangement explodes into a wash of distorted guitar. It is befitting a song churning with discontent and anxiety. The mood of this track is darker than the earlier performances, but Bryce balances it with passages of melodic guitar – think of these moments being akin to someone maintaining grace under pressure. The EP’s penultimate track “Median” is another guitar-powered cut beginning life as many of the other tracks do – a dialogue between Bryce and her six string – before erupting into an all-out rocker. It is the last of such songs you’ll hear on this release.