Synth maestro of the present meets synth maestro of the past AND present in the next chapter of the intergenerational FRKWYS series from RVNG Intl. Since they've both twiddled, bleeped and blooped for the good of all things vibrant, textural and chill, this promises to be a wondrous and rich collaboration.
9/10 Ant Staff review, 14 September 2016
Not many people know about this, but I’m about to blow the lid off this whole operation… Somewhere in New York City, in the basement of RVNG Intl. headquarters there is a dark room. On the door hangs a sign that reads: FRKWYS - Awesome Collaborations Ideas Generation Zone. Inside that room is a large glass tank that holds the brain of an alien life form which is thought to have been seized from Area 51. That brain is seven times the size, and four million times more powerful than they puny piles of insipid mush inside our human skulls.
Turns out the reason aliens were sniffing about the Nevada desert was they were on a mission to find Jolly Ranchers, because, like, you know you can’t get that shit outside this solar system.
So every once in awhile, one of the staff will cook up some Ranchers and inject them into The Brain and in return The Brain telepathically communicates with artists in their dreams and tells them to collaborate for a record on RVNG Intl. Just ask Julianna Barwick & Ikue Mori, Blues Control & Laraaji, Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras & The Congos, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma to name but a few.
The Brain’s latest stroke of curatorial genius involved sending dreams to California dwelling, modular synthesizer twiddlers Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani. The former has had three albums in the past coupla years -- released by Western Vinyl. The latter has been creating sounds since before the former was even a foetus. Her pioneering work highlighted in recent years by brilliant records coming from the Finders Keepers camp. So a bright new talent working alongside a master of the artform - oldskool meets new skool, one might say -- in keeping with the intergenerational nature of the FRKWYS series.
Look, I’ve played this album like five times or something and each time it’s taken me to a different place - and no, I wasn’t high incase you were wondering. Well, I wasn’t high on drugs in the conventional sense - but music gets you high, right? Each time I’ve thought like “Okay, now I’m gonna write about this album” and failed. The music is so immersive it’s like a swarm of tranquillizer darts float out of the speakers and render me paralyzed for the duration. Then when it’s over feeling like I’ve awoken from being frozen in cryogenic sleep, losing all track of linear time. What year is this? When I stepped outside I didn't know whether I was gonna walk into past, present or future.
We all need some form of escapism in our lives. The multi-layered, mutating sounds of the Buchla 200 E and the Buchla Music Easel present here are perfect the tools to assist. But don’t get it twisted. I’m not sat here on the floor, cross-legged, lighting up incense, surrounded by dreamcatchers. Sure you could apply a few new-age ambient clichés like “inner journey” to this record but things aren’t quite as straightforwardly blissed as that. Okay so you have the synthesized sounds of the ocean and beams of sunshine shooting at you but there are darker forces present here, something unsettling, something that threatens the order of nature and that is you and I. Humans - just as capable of bringing beauty into this world with great pieces of art such as this, as we are of destroying it. Maybe we could all learn something from The Brain.
Note the vinyl edition has two tracks; ‘A New Day’ and ‘Closed Circuit’ while the third track ‘Retrograde’ is present on the CD and is available to download using a voucher that comes with the wax. Highly recommended.
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- FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani
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