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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

The Mosaic Of Transformation

    West coast composer, artist, and producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has chartered a pioneering career with multiple critically-acclaimed albums since 2015. Following the release of The Kid in 2017, Smith focused her energy in several directions. She founded Touchtheplants, a multidisciplinary creative environment for projects including the first volumes in her instrumental Electronic Series and pocket-sized poetry books on the practice of listening within. She’s continued to explore the endless possibilities of electronic instruments as well as the shapes, movements, and expressions found in the physical body’s relationship to sound and color. It is this life-guiding interest that forms the foundational frequencies of her most recent full-length, The Mosaic of Transformation, a bright, sensorial glide through unbound wave phenomena and the radiant power discovered within oneself.

    “I guess in one sentence, this album is my expression of love and appreciation for electricity,” says Smith. While writing and recording, she embraced a daily practice of physical movement, passing electricity through her body and into motion, in ways reflecting her audio practice, which sends currents through modular synthesizers and into the air through speakers. Not a dancer by any traditional definition, she taught herself improvisatory movement realizing flexibility, strength, and unexpectedly, a “visual language” stemming from the human body and comprised of vibrational shapes. Understood as cymatics, as Smith says, “as a reference for how frequencies can be visualized,” much like a mosaic.

    Smith describes her first encounters with this mosaic; “the inspiration came to me in a sudden bubble of joy. It was accompanied by a multitude of shapes that were moving seamlessly from one into the other...My movement practice has been a constant transformation piece by piece. I made this album in the same way. Every day I would transform what I did yesterday...into something else. This album has gone through about 12 different versions of itself.” As it has arrived, in a completed state, The Mosaic of Transformation is a holistic manifestation of embodied motions. Smith’s signature textural curiosity that fans have grown to adore pivots naturally into a proprioceptive study of melody and timbre. Airy organ and voice interweave with burbling Buchla-spawned harmonic bubbles.

    “The Steady Heart” quivers to life, peppering blasts of wooden organ between winding vocal affirmations. As with a body, moving one portion requires a balance and counterbalance; here, subtle tonal twitchy signals fire in conjunction with coiling arias to create a mesmeric core. When the beat arrives at the midway mark, a swooping and jittery waltz, a sense of stasis in motion, a flow state, is sonically achieved. As soon as it syncs, it disappears back into the swirling ebbs of electric force. Other tracks stray into more ruminative physical realms. “Carrying Gravity” is built around string-like pads that expand and contract like a solar plexus, becoming taught and then loose.

    If the record could be summarized in a single movement, it is the 10-minute closing suite, a rapturous collage called “Expanding Electricity.” Symphonic phrases establish the piece before washes of glittering electric peals and synthesized vibraphone helix into focus. Soon, Smith’s voice grounds it all with an intuitive vocal hook, harmonized and augmented by concentric spirals of harp-and-horn-like sounds. Smith’s music doesn’t capture a specific emotion as much as it captures the joys of possessing a body, and the ability to, with devotion and a steady open heart, maneuver that vessel in space by way of electricity to euphoric degrees. 


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Transparent coloured vinyl

    Legend has it that Brian Eno’s concept of ambient music came to him while laid up in a hospital bed after an automobile accident in the ‘70s. A friend brought him some records, playing them too low to be properly heard, and Eno couldn’t get out of bed to adjust the volume. While the record spun softly, Eno’s idea for music you could ignore as easily as you could give it your full attention, like a sort of sonic wallpaper, was born. It’s in that spirit of quiet isolation that Ghostly International, in association with Adult Swim, shares "Ghostly Swim 2", our way of giving listeners a space to get away from the manic bustle of the festive period.

    For those keeping track at home, Ghostly is wrapping up its 15th anniversary as an Ann Arbor/Brooklyn-based indie. 2014 has seen the company soundtracking video games (Playstation’s Hohokum), collaborating with awesome companies like Warby Parker and VOID watches, and clearing 300 releases of forward-thinking music with records from Tycho, Com Truise, and HTRK. What better way to end this banner year than to revisit one of our favorite partnerships from the past decade and a half?

    Released in 2008, "Ghostly Swim" was praised for its adventurous survey of exploratory dance and pop music. Our curatorial focus has shifted this time around, moving further inward (spiritually) and outward (as far as our roster goes) to reflect the electronic underground in all of its hazy and vibrant experimentalism. 


    Choir Of Young Believers

    This Is For The White In Your Eyes

      Even though This Is for the White in Your Eyes, the full-length debut by Danish collective Choir of Young Believers, is teeming with instruments--voices, pianos, synthesizers, banjos, an orchestra’s ransom in strings and French horns--it’s not the arrangements that dominate so much as the images they conjure. Snow-flecked moun-taintops, deserted city streets, ghost-filled churches, a final kiss between estranged lovers--this is the emotional terrain trod by Jannis Joya Makrigiannis and his Choir of Young Believers. This Is for the White in Your Eyes is an album of orchestral indie-pop, but its artistic scope extends beyond melody and harmony: Choir of Young Believers paint cinematic tableaux, with Jannis cast as the silvery-voiced narrator.

      Jannis produced This Is for the White in Your Eyes with his old friends and collaborators Anders Rhedin and Fridolin, constructing cavernous sound-worlds around his own skeletal guitar and piano compositions. (“I don’t have a computer, so I almost never record demos,” Jannis says.) The song cycle begins on a somber note with the lonely piano atmospherics of “Hollow Talk,” a dirge that builds towards a climax of machine-gun snares and sneering children’s choir.

      It’s followed by the soaring balladry of “Next Summer” and the anthemic single, “Ac-tion/Reaction.” Jannis’ voice is something to behold--a reverb-slicked, bell-like tenor in the Neil Young mold--and his golden pipes haunt the album, floating over “Un-der the Moon” like a celestial body, riding the thundering piano notes of “Claustrophobia,” and rippling on the horizon of the country-tinged “Why Must It Always Be this Way.” And yet, for all of the record’s orchestral gran-deur, there’s an icy Nordic remove running through This Is for the White in Your Eyes that keeps the overflowing emotions in check. In Choir of Young Believers’ hands, even the sweetest melodies carry a hollow, solitary mood that lingers long after the music has stopped.

      Chicago-based contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has composed panoramas of synthesized sound for over a decade. First within his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music, and later across a steady and critically-acclaimed stream of solo releases spanning ambient techno, arpeggiated electronica and post-kosmische styles utilizing synthesizers, computers, and digital processing. In 2018, he extended a collection of rich, visceral tracks titled Dissolvi, his first release on Ghostly International and his most collaborative work to date. Just a year later, Hauschildt returns with Nonlin, an album that’s freer, leaner, and looser, both structurally and conceptually; less linear compared to its predecessor, but still captivating. Developed and recorded in several studios during and around the edges of tour — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Tbilisi, and Brussels — this material emulates an alienating encounter with a smattering of places, a replicant of culture shock, a solitary and stark experience with uncanny environments, melody and dissonance as oblique locales.

      Nonlin finds Hauschildt evolving his palette of tools, integrating modular and granular synthesis. The improvisatory and generative nature of modular systems, when paired with his signature grid-oriented and hand-played techniques, guides these compositions slightly out of line to hypnotic effect. Opener “Cloudloss” permeates the mix with an unsettling smog, which reappears and all but engulfs “A Planet Left Behind.” On cuts like “Attractor B” and “Subtractive Skies,” pockets of air rest between sequenced pulses, whose crumpling and flattening folds build into a restrained rapture of crisp frequencies and milky reverb-swallowed coruscations.

      The album’s title track and centerpiece logs on to a foreign network, a fractured percussion signal that modulates and stutters into static amidst curious melodic sparkling in the hazy bandwidth. “Reverse Culture Music” casts an elegant and brooding stream of strings, pizzicato and churning bow from Chicago cellist Lia Kohl, against chiming minimalist synth frameworks. A surprising pattern emerges in the taciturn systems at work. Hauschildt continues to expand his already horizon-wide repertoire, here exploring the effects of corrupting coordinates; a flight subject to the collapsable abilities of time in remote spaces, a smearing of the axis to elegiac ends.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Another outstanding LP from the ever-reliable Steve Hauschildt here, and his first for Ghostly. This time we go further down the ambient seam he's been exploring of late (though Tragedy & Geometry and Sequitur had hints of airy ambience, they were essentially propulsive kosmische music), with slowly evolving walls of sound twisting around the overriding melodic theme, going almost full circle towards his work in Emeralds.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Super limited “Liquid Mercury” colour (silver suspended in transparent vinyl).

      Legend has it that Brian Eno’s concept of ambient music came to him while laid up in a hospital bed after an automobile accident in the ‘70s. A friend brought him some records, playing them too low to be properly heard, and Eno couldn’t get out of bed to adjust the volume. While the record spun softly, Eno’s idea for music you could ignore as easily as you could give it your full attention, like a sort of sonic wallpaper, was born. It’s in that spirit of quiet isolation that Ghostly International, in association with Adult Swim, shares Ghostly Swim 2, our way of giving listeners a space to get away from the manic holiday bustle.

      For those keeping track at home, Ghostly is wrapping up its 15th anniversary as an Ann Arbor/Brooklyn-based indie. 2014 has seen the company soundtracking video games (Playstation’s Hohokum), collaborating with awesome companies like Warby Parker and VOID watches, and clearing 300 releases of forward-thinking music with records from Tycho, Com Truise, and HTRK. What better way to end this banner year than to revisit one of our favorite partnerships from the past decade and a half?

      Released in 2008, Ghostly Swim was praised for its adventurous survey of exploratory dance and pop music. Our curatorial focus has shifted this time around, moving further inward (spiritually) and outward (as far as our roster goes) to reflect the electronic underground in all of its hazy and vibrant experimentalism. Ghostly Swim 2 is a document of textured ambient zone-outs and woozy, granular house and techno that will help you find some downtime away from The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. So sit back, lower the volume, and enjoy our selections. 


      For nearly a decade the story of Com Truise has relied on science fiction and abstract fact. Seth Haley’s singular style of melodic beat music subsists as hazy machinist nostalgia, a mainframe downloaded cosmology. Yet with each release, alongside sonic refinement, comes an increasingly visible vapor trail to Haley’s own ontology. His long-awaited 2017 LP "Iteration" brought to completion a conceptual space saga while also reflecting seismic life changes for the producer and designer. With this mini-LP "Persuasion System", Haley leaves the past narrative behind, settling into a new period marked by change - on this planet, in the present - putting forth his most grounded and visceral work to date.

      The project began as an experiment. Haley switched digital audio workstations, rebuilt his palette of sounds, and tasked himself with simply trying it out. The exercise freed him of expectations and permitted a process that echoed the tones of more immediate external environments. A gravity had seeped in; resulting material shifts between bleakness and sublime suspense, awe at the expanse of existing, in looking back and letting go. 'It’s a sort of sad smile and a wave goodbye but at the same time hello, a 'welcome to your life’ moment,' Haley says. Take the storm pattern sequence from “Gaussian” to “Ultrafiche of You”: a queasy, contemplative vignette rests on a single soft-synth cloud before the latter’s percussion ripples across the sky. With trademark stutters and swells, the composition conjures the sensation of searching in the afterglow. 'It’s a love song, and I don’t write many of those.'

      That duality: melancholy + optimism now permeates this widescreen collection. “Existence Schematic” takes flight at night, 'looking down at the landscape,' explains Haley, 'seeing the lights in a schematic sort of way, wondering who or what is looking back up at me wondering the same things I am, the impact of a single existence, the end, the beginning, where it’s gone and going.' These are observations from this existential "Persuasion System", and Haley hopes the music yields more, for others, that listeners may search for their own tension and release.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Martin says: Wide-screen, technicoloured synthwork from old faves Com Truise who usher forth a new age of optimism-thru-technology.

      Matthew Dear is a shapeshifter, oscillating seamlessly between DJ, dance-music producer, and experimental pop auteur. He is a founding artist on both Ghostly International and its dancefloor offshoot, Spectral Sound. He writes, produces, and mixes all of his work. He straddles multiple musical worlds and belongs to none, now nearly 20 years into his kaleidoscopic career, with five albums and two dozen EPs plus millions of miles in the rearview of his biography.

      Bunny is the name of Matthew Dear’s fifth album. His first since 2012, it bounces into plain sight preceded by two slyly different singles in 2017: the moody, urgent "Modafinil Blues” and the buoyant, blithe, Tegan and Sara-featuring “Bad Ones.” Bunny follows both modes, among others, parading down a rabbit hole of unhinged phrasings, dreams, and interludes. It saunters in the shadows; it stands brightly in the moonlight. Bunny is a dual vision of avant-pop; an artistic reckoning from a 21st-century polymath; persona splintered, paradox paraphrased, a riddle rendered.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Very limited white splatter vinyl.

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Dabrye

      One / Three

        It was chance that brought about the release of One/Three, Dabrye’s debut album. Early demos were tucked on the B side of a cassette Tadd Mullinix passed to Sam Valenti in 2000 while working at the Dubplate Pressure record shop in Ann Arbor. Mullinix had spent the late ’90s producing jungle, techno, house, hip-hop and more using the All Sound Tracker software as a primary instrument. Each style pulled from a similar sound palette as Mullinix used limitations to define the contours of di erent musical personalities. Dabrye was his hip-hop wildstyle, a captivating collage of sparse instrumentals inspired by the laid back vibes of midwestern hip-hop and east coast boom bap, the futuristic funk of Umma-era Jay Dee, and the calculated subtlety of Detroit dance music. Released in 2001 as the first in an intended trilogy, One/Three announced Dabrye’s arrival with an unavoidable contribution to Detroit hip-hop. Ghostly International is reissuing the album in 2017 for the first time, including a long overdue vinyl edition.

        On its release One/Three was the rare album that appealed to both fans of Slum Village’s smooth yet rugged hip-hop and enthusiasts of the distinct American IDM released by labels like Schematic. Over the following decade, the inadvertent demo submission turned into a body of work that placed Dabrye alongside innovators such as Prefuse 73 amid the cannon of a new generation of producers. Today, One/Three remains a concise and intriguing study in instrumental hip-hop that helps join the dots between J Dilla and Flying Lotus.

        One/Three is a record that says much with little. There are no obvious hip-hop tropes. Instead Mullinix captures the ingenious minimalism of ’90s hip-hop instrumentals to build tracks both supple and hard, joyous and melancholy, full of sharply angled rhythms and warm rubbery basslines: ‘The Lish’ throws a sickly sweet saxophone against digitally fragmented melodies; ‘How Many Times (with this)’ draws you in with an irresistible, clipped guitar groove; the rhythmic stutter of ’Smoking The Edge’ makes your head spin with pleasure. Playing with his inspirations, Mullinix injects omitted downbeats for imagined rhymes and repurposes the intricacy of ragga jungle for breakdowns.

        But what really defines One/Three is the rhythmic sensibility and metric modulation of Detroit’s school of hip-hop production, which Mullinix was a fervent student of. The beats feel like they’re constantly escaping a rigid tempo grid even though they are, in fact, pretty tight. “A lot of it is nuance,” Mullinix explains. “I’ve been known to say that I’m not impressed by spectacle. I think that nuance is what really captivates people.”

        Since Scott Hansen's Tycho project's inception in 2004 with the release of 'Sunrise Projector' (later renamed 'Past Is Prologue' for it's reissues in 2006 and 2010), they have undertaken a wide range of melodic electronic miscellany. Centred around the trio of albums, 'Dive' 'Awake' and onto his latest offering, 'Epoch'. 

        Though they all mine the seam of anthemic electronic music, they have leant in slightly differing directions with regards their emotional pacing and melodic makeup. 'Dive' was very much a morning album, slowly growing into a breathing and optomistic mass through woozy synths and reticent percussion, forming themes through repetition and infinitesimal variations. 'Awake' was much more as the title suggests, a pinnacle of alertness, an effervescent and resplendent rising from the woozy haze of the first. 

        And onto Epoch. A culmination and combination of the previous two iterations, stylistically, and theoretically. 

        Opener 'Division' begins with a hazy crushed electric piano, and growing fade before cutting brutally into galloping toms, and that trademark Tycho bass sound. Not two minutes in and it becomes instantly recognisable, with sliding square wave synths swooning backwards and forwards along with the kinetic rhytmic backdrop. 'Horizon' has throbbing cosmic chord stabs and sidechained crisp saturated drum kit. 

        Pieces like 'Reciever' really move the posts of what has come before, embracing the dusky atmospheres of 'Dive' but with much more of a late-night feel, jazzy rhodes trills and throbbing ambience really lending their mystique before being given a firm but subtle bolstering by some uncharacteristically distant drums and shakers dragging the pace along. 

        Move on further and 'Division' is a complex and fascinating melting pot of instrumental rock, driving electronica and ambience, being based much more heavily upon guitars and rhythm before bringing in the synths in a stop-start cut-up. A brilliantly varied but completely natural progression, made all the more hard-hitting by the lack of crossovers, opting instead for a complete about-turn on more than one occasion. 

        'Epoch' is less about ambience setting the scene than on previous offerings, and much more based on Hansen's mastery of rhythmic foundations and celever melodic arrangement. Moreso than anything else Tycho have done, this is a bracing and rewarding journey, never jarring, but constantly evolving. A masterful culmination of concept and execution, and most of all a great listen. 

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Having been a fan of Tycho's work for some time now, I was wondering how this would come out, and I couldn't be any happier. A brilliant fusion of the unbelievable skill of the previous two albums, and a brilliantly executed continuation and expanding of the themes found on both. Darker, moodier and more uplifting and euphoric at the flick of a switch. Brilliant.


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