Winner of our Album of the Year competition in 2016 with EARS, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith now serves up a new selection which is nothing if not ambitious. She has now produced a four part album which chronicles the for defining segments of life exemplifying Smith's deep thinking ability to delve further than the average composer.
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The bearer of Norman Records’ Album of the Year 2016 returns just over a year later with a follow-up, and by the looks of it she’s more of a cosmic traveller than ever. I’m sure you’re all wondering what’s changed since EARS, and don’t worry, this ain’t no acoustic interlude album. It’s full of those lively, popping Buchla synths that Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith mastered a long time ago, and still revolves around song-like structures. This time though, she ditches the majority of the woodwind/brassy textures, ups the synth explorations, and has written a totally, completely nuts record.
After a bubbly intro that tricks you into thinking that you’re going to be listening to ‘EARS 2’, the sound field quickly melts away to leave a relatively sparse set of synthetic chords with an extended verse over the top. She’s used that same vocal doubling effect as EARS, otherworldly and cosmic, but the real standout of this is the way the melody of her voice rises toward the end of the verse, bursting with emotion. This would probably be a good time to talk about the album concept - it’s about the multiple stages of life, broadly separated into 4, so it makes sense that this early on the wonder and amazement is at max level, a kid running around having a great time, before everything descends into trouble and murk. I’m kidding, of course……. But yeah she knows how to convert that feeling into music for sure, the enthusiasm gushing from the first half of the record.
That rising verse repeats, builds to a mass of blips then falls away into a skeletal, metallic techno beat that’s unlike anything I’ve heard from her before (but thankfully echoed on 7th track ‘I Am Learning’). She bleeps and bloops over it like a wide-eyed Hieroglyphic Being jamming with Floating Points, begins a massive layered verse, then the song completely flips in its portrayal of infancy. It’s like a big ol’ space choir with 100 layers of Smith accompanied by whooshes. This is what I mean by nuts. The album goes far more places than the previous did, inspired by the 50s/60s dreams of space from folks like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Tom Dissevelt, updated for your modern ears and fused with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s soul.
It’s a lot to take in, a truly massive vision that leaves you with a disorientated state of mind on first/second listen, but once you become accustomed to the bloopy madness, there are beautiful, velvety songs to be heard simultaneously.
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