Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Let’s Turn It Into Sound Music Album Reviews

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Let’s Turn It Into Sound Music Album Reviews
With tangled, stop-start arrangements that open to unexpected trap doors, the composer and synthesizer musician brings playfulness to the fore. You might call this her “pop” album.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith revels in the plasticity of electronic sound, stretching and twisting it with colorful, kinetic abandon. The Orcas Island native’s work isn’t ambient in the strictest sense, despite her billowing synthesizers or her affinity for yoga and meditation. Smith’s songs are too composerly, too active, her voice leaping nimbly over arpeggios that churn like candy-colored magma. Her music’s lightheartedness can be subtle, overshadowed by the aura of hushed awe that hangs over stately chord progressions, bucolically burbling waveforms, and open-armed invocations of wonder, like this mantra from 2017’s The Kid: “If I let go of holding on to my ego/Will you let go too?” But on Let’s Turn It Into Sound, her playfulness comes to the fore. You might call this Smith’s “pop” album. Her beatific overtones have morphed, giving way to sparkly-eyed whimsy and, in places, some shockingly muscular grooves. At first, the squirrelly twists and turns can be hard to follow; an air of mischief keeps things chaotic. But once you lock into the ebullient mood, its joy—her joy—is unmistakable and irresistible.

To underscore just how far we’ve come from the abiding calm of a track like “Remembering,” from 2020’s mind-and-body-uniting The Mosaic of Transformation, she kicks off Let’s Turn It Into Sound with an antic burst of 8-bit bleeps. For anyone expecting the usual atmosphere of patient reverence, it feels like stumbling into a secret video arcade hidden in the backroom of the ashram. Then, a sudden shift: “Have you felt lately/The beauty that you are?” she sings, painting an unpredictable melody in zig-zagging stripes over a soft bed of organs. While you’re still meditating on that positive affirmation, an erratic beat slams into the side of our protective sanctuary, sending stained glass flying. Drums stutter and lurch, echoing the glitch techno of the Y2K era. Clarinets carve out a momentary pocket of calm. And finally, a buoyant chorus comes soaring over a slightly less scattershot iteration of that same stumbling rhythm, until downward faders usher us gently out. The whole album is like this, and it’s both disorienting and thrilling: a funhouse full of trap doors, fakeouts, and wormholes.

Featuring an array of Buchla modular synthesizers along with other synths, woodwinds, and airy pads made from samples of Smith’s own voice, the record’s palette is similar to that of her last couple of albums. But the edges are sharper, the colors brighter, the textures more vivid. In “Pivot Signal,” she arrays pulsing synths and woodwinds into a gorgeous piece that recalls the kaleidoscopic spin of Philip Glass or Steve Reich, telegraphing a clear-eyed mixture of hope and resolve. “Locate” begins with wheezy reeds but soon blossoms into a lopsided hip-hop cadence arrayed in angel choir and perky sax and flute, like a three-way fusion of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Flying Lotus, and Raymond Scott. Smith has toyed with beats before—for instance, on The Mosaic of Transformation’s “Steady Heart”—but they’ve never been as foregrounded, nor as forceful, as they are here: The elliptical groove of “Is It Me or Is It You?” takes cues from both Ricardo Villalobos and Autechre, while “Unbraid: The Merge” incorporates dembow-inspired syncopations into the kind of deep-diving house rhythm that you might expect to hear pouring out of a warehouse soundsystem while the rest of the neighborhood is getting ready for work.

But what most distinguishes Let’s Turn It Into Sound are its tangled, stop-start arrangements. Again and again, songs begin with one idea—a vision of phosphorus rolling in the tide or a snippet of intergalactic jazz—and then abruptly change course, making way for tumbledown drums or lofty choirs or regal fanfare, sometimes all at once. Most of these songs are really three or four discrete tracks shoehorned together, separated by a hiccup’s worth of silence or a swooping jump cut; sometimes, the parts aren’t even in the same key. The pace of these changes is dizzying yet delightful; she bounces from idea to idea like a kid flitting from present to half-opened present on Christmas morning. And while they are both formally intriguing and viscerally pleasurable, I suspect that these abrupt edits serve a deeper purpose.

In Smith’s new book Somatic Hearing, a short philosophical tract on the practice of listening, she writes about the link between perception and emotional understanding, themes she picks up here on “Unbraid: The Merge.” “You are being obstructed,” she intones atop slow-moving clarinets. Dissonant orchestral sounds bubble up from below; the vocal melody whirls like a tossed polyhedron as she urges us to “change the angle/Look at it straight on instead of perpendicular,” lyrics that could have come straight from a deck of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. Then, just before a loping drumbeat sweeps the frame, she offers this: “Let’s hold this together/The merge.” It sounds a lot like a lesson she says she picked up in music school when one of her professors pointed out “that every note and every rhythm can connect. You just have to find the common ground.” With Let’s Turn It Into Sound, Smith turns her music upside down, shakes out her assumptions, and lets the pieces fall where they may, all in the interest of finding new connections between things that were never meant to go together. It’s a leap into the unknown, and her excitement is infectious.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Let’s Turn It Into Sound Music Album Reviews Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Let’s Turn It Into Sound Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 05, 2022 Rating: 5


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