Euclid from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith was written around the concept of Euclidean geometry, with points representing time signature and planes resembling a scale. Also influenced by mbira music and written on her Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, this album is bouncy and playful. On vinyl and CD from Western Vinyl.
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‘Euclid’, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s debut record, is a bubbly and striking record, a playful experiment that sounds more suited to a party than a deconstruction. It didn’t begin that way; composing music almost entirely on a compact Easel synthesizer, Smith intended to defer all of her song structures to “euclidean geometry”, using certain meeting points in shapes as inspiration for time signatures. On paper, it sounds rigid and unnecessary, the kind of concept album you could hear once and then file away; in practice, though, it barely feels like this record has a concept at all. It’s a free-flowing work that suggests open spaces rather than closed systems, with bright, sparkling synth that sounds fantastical and other-worldly and an array of programmed drums that act as a constant pulse, one that replicates your heart excitedly beating.
A little bit video game, a little bit electronic experiment and somewhat Vampire Weekend (at least on the squeaky clean chords of “Sundry”), ‘Elucid’ strikes the perfect balance between challenging and utterly euphoric, conjuring up nostalgia that needs to be delved into and sorted through. A lot of electro-pop blueprints are encoded into this: her vocals can run up the octaves into Grimes’ territory, while the xylophonic sounds and wordless vocals on “Glide” recall Dan Deacon building and building to the catharsis while adding subliminal layers of sound that could erupt at any time. At times, her vocals hover on the periphery, appearing as if they have nothing to do with the synth framework she’s developed; in moments like these, there are traces of Laurel Halo’s ‘Quarantine’ to be found. All this to say, of course, that Smith is that rare kind of composer: a brilliantly intelligent and drivingly spontaneous one.
‘Euclid’ is described on Smith’s website as “delivering sonic puzzles”, but it’s more like a puzzle that comes solved in its box. The deep mathematical thinking has been taken care of in advance, and by the time you listen to this record all that’s left are the romantic melodies, the elemental beauty. This is the kind of synth pop that makes you dream of colourful clouds and rainbows flying through the sky. You don’t have to understand geometry to like this; you just have to appreciate the harmony.
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