Switched on – Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Mosaic Of Transformation (Ghostly International)

What’s the story?

It is tempting to put forward the idea that what the musical world needs right now is a new album from t Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. That is because the music she has made up until now is not just a comfort for anxious times but it offers real, meaningful positivity from within. Recognising that potential, Ghostly International have proceeded with the album release rather than defer it, meaning that while Smith’s tour with Caribou may be cancelled the album she would be promoting is still with us.

Her previous release, Tides, was free of beats, and much of the rhythmic profile of The Mosaic Of Transformation is constructed without explicit use of bass drums. Yet it is an album of movement, exploring the relationship between sound and colour, and our own physical beings. She has a great wealth of knowledge and experience in this area, making music specifically designed to ‘fit’ our life experiences in a way that enhances them.

What’s the music like?

The Mosaic Of Transformation is light on its feet much of the time, but that does not make it insubstantial. Quite the opposite, for in tracks like Expanding Electricity, the ten and a half minute closing track on the album, Smith has put together sound collages of a deep and lasting beauty and also of a surprising density. If music were colour – which it often is of course – there would be deep blues and purples in this track especially, beginning with sonorous low register strings but curving upwards through the spectrum. When her multitracked voice proclaims, ‘I feel it, can you feel it expanding?’, the celebration of electrical power is wholeheartedly complete.

This love of electricity – without which very little of our music could be heard! – is felt throughout the album, where brighter pastel shades make themselves known. Carrying Gravity is another substantial track that develops instinctively and with a keen structural command. It has a luminous glow, especially as the textures thin out towards the end.

Some of the harmonic language Smith uses has an Oriental feel, which is either implied or more directly referenced – and the busy exchanges of The Steady Heart bring this through to the front. It is subtly apparent as the album gurgles into life through Unbraiding Boundless Energy Within Boundaries, while Remembering uses block chords and Smith’s distinctive layered vocals. After the initial relative stillness Understanding Body Messages stays true to its title with snippets of musical code passing along the line, conveying positive energy.

The beats are more gainfully employed in The Steady Heart, which has multi-layered vocals at its core – but everything is inevitably pointed to the closing, epic ode to electrical power.

Does it all work?

Yes – and the more you listen to The Mosaic Of Transformation, the more it has to offer. Smith’s layering technique is a sonic delight, because each visit to the music reveals previously hidden workings, subtle melodic touches and crossrhythms, all done with a light craftswoman’s touch. As the last sounds of Expanding Electricity subside, a lasting warmth is left behind.

Is it recommended?

Yes – and the more you listen to The Mosaic Of Transformation, the more it has to offer. Smith’s layering technique is a sonic delight, and each visit to the music reveals previously hidden workings, subtle melodic touches and crossrhythms, all done with a light craftswoman’s touch. As the last sounds of Expanding Electricity subside, a lasting warmth is left behind.

Listen and Buy

Sound of Mind 10 – May Blossoms

As we move halfway through the eighth week of lockdown here in the UK, I thought it a good time to round up some of the best sounds I’ve been enjoying in the last week or two.

The arrival of spring is hopefully in full swing, and there are good signs of creativity throughout the electronic music community.

This playlist begins with the first track of the Conference Of Trees album from Pantha du Prince, before enjoying some rather wonderful pictures brought to us by Peter Broderick, Erland Cooper, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and brothers Brian and Roger Eno.

There is brand new music from Bibio, one of the standout tracks from Nathan Fake‘s Blizzards album and to wrap things up a remix of Philip Glass‘s Two Pages by none other than Max Cooper.

Enjoy an hour of escapism!

Ben Hogwood