Conceived as a soundtrack to a film of visuals by the late Harry Everett Smith, Abstractions finds Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith zooming out a little bit. The single-track work sees Smith working with an array of modulars along with her well-worn Prophet 5 synthesiser to create this plaintive, oceanic ambient work. Not dissimilar to the more aquatic end of Arthur Russell’s output.
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- MNR006 / 140g clear vinyl 12" EP on Make Noise Records. Housed in a matte jacket featuring artwork by Harry Everett Smith (comprised of film negatives from Abstractions, licensed from the Harry Smith Archives), assembled by Sean Curtis Patrick
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Synthesizer music should be at odds with nature. They are machines, they are inherently not part of it. And there’s a lot to explore in doubling down on that, in exploiting their machine-ness, their proximity to industry. But there’s something quite magical about musicians who are capable of subverting that. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is a genius at the synthesizer, and her particular brand of genius is to make these machines produce something organic feeling. The bubbles and ticks that she manages to squeeze out of her instruments seem to defy their very essences. And yet it works, it works wonderfully.
Abstractions is the soundtrack Smith produced for another Smith, artist and experimental filmmaker Harry Everett Smith. You can see stills of the film on the artwork of the record but I’d recommend watching the film with Aurelia Smith’s soundtrack at least once. The two Smiths are a wonderful match for each other. Each’s work is joyful and colourful and gloriously kinetic. Though Everett Smith’s film is mostly just simple, primary coloured shapes moving around the screen, Aurelia Smith’s soundtrack is so alive that those shapes become distinct characters.
And it’s that same life which makes the soundtrack work entirely on its own merits. Though produced by a “Make Noise System & Sequential Circuits Prophet 5”, there is genuine warmth here, and a powerful sense of narrative. What starts small and simple, spirals out into euphoric chaos before slowly, surely, returning to the ground. A garden blooming in the spring, before slowly falling into a slumber for winter.
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- Abstractions by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
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