Dedicated to the memory of her mother, who passed away in 2018, experimental musician Katie Gately presents her second album Loom. With field recordings ranging from cut-up audio from her parents’ wedding to the sound of actual earthquakes, this beautiful album bears the profundity of permanent loss.
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Before I start listening to anything that I'm given to write about, I tend to have a poke around our website to see what the press release and our ever-compendious description writers have written about the record in question. When I read phrases such as "field recording", "seismic rumble", and "actual earthquakes" written about 'Loom' by Katie Gately, I knew it was time to get locked in.
'Loom' is an apt title. There's a sense of some massive latent force gathering strength. This energy is released in places, such as in the giant crescendo of 'Bracer', the album's centrepiece, or the thunderous middle section of 'Allay', but usually everything feels like it's gearing up. Looking at the waveforms on Soundcloud, there are lots of slow increases in size that disappear into quiet sections. For instance, 'Tower' has a squalling escalation that gives way to a series of funereal drum thumps. The arrangements are dynamic. They feel orchestral, like switched-on versions of Brahms' huge, triumphant symphonies.
For all of 'Loom's power and pomp, Gately still includes starker, sparser moments. I love the Meredith Monk-esque vocalisations on 'Allay' and although 'Rite' is wound as tight as a spring, there's still a degree of fragility to it. I came to see the first six songs as charting the progress of the thing that 'looms' and the last two, one might call them the coda, as the fall-out from that, the storm's aftermath. Both 'Flow' and 'Rest' have chord progressions that resolve and feel slightly more optimistic than the disquieting discordance of the rest. The coda has a breathless quality that's balm after the immensity that precedes it.
Although this album occasionally veers into style over substance, for the most part 'Loom' is a brilliant-executed, intricately-wrought record.
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