A magnificent, exploratory new album...
'EARS'

Technology is everywhere. From our phones to cash machines, buses to the walk home, technology is entirely entwined with our daily experiences, the digital world enmeshed with the analogue.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith seems to express this. New album ‘EARS’ – the follow up to 2015's fascinating full length ‘Euclid’ – is a whirring, dizzying blend of left field electronics and woodwind instrumentation, pitting the cerebral against the physical across eight incredible tracks.

Vowing to “spend as little time as possible in front of the computer during the creation” Kaitlyn tended to focus on hardware during writing sessions. One piece of kit in particular stands out, with the Buchla Music Easel supplying some of those wonderfully humane bleeps and bloops, the un-placeable sounds that dominate the album’s construction.

‘First Flight’ is a spell-binding opener, with ‘Wetlands’ serving to take things down a notch. Using her own vocals, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is able to conjure a ferocious hurricane, before retreating back into wisps, into skittering fragments of sound.

‘When I Try, I’m Full’ is laced with foreboding, the crystalline ambience fuelled by strings but interrupted by gurgling electronics that swarm around the melody line. References to the natural world dominate – the skittering, unsettling ‘Anthropoda’ namechecks a form of insect, while the veering, airy synths of ‘Stratus’ veers up into the Thermosphere.

‘EARS’ is fuelled by a real, palpable sense of ambition, of pushing further and further into the unknown. The varied elements and experiments coalesce in the incredible grand finale ‘Existence In The Unfurling’ – an eleven minute epic that seems to formulate a lexicon, a language of its own.

Kaitlyn’s half-spoken, half-sighed vocals lurch from the ether, half-remembered shadows of conversation that seem at once futuristic and impossible ancient. Continually pirouetting into new realms, ‘Existence In The Unfurling’ does exactly that – it unfurls, a gradual revelation that is gripping in its sheer innovation.

In the press note provided the composer makes mention of her trust in the sub-conscious, her faith in the unknown – ‘EARS’ is a stunning evocation of that decision, a magnificent aural topography of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s inspired imagination.

8/10

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