ARTIST: KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH
LABEL (YEAR): WESTERN VINYL (2016)
FOR FANS OF: PHILLIP GLASS, BRIAN ENO, FEVER RAY, BOARDS OF CANADA
Words by Jasper Morvaridi
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith hails from Orcas Island, Washington State, which she describes as "one of the most magical and peaceful places.” It’s clear that she’s channelled the energy and glorious nature of her hometown into her beautiful new album, EARS. It’s an album intrinsically connected with nature that somehow also feels completely out of this world.
EARS is made up of many undulating layers, primarily composed using Smith’s impressive Buchla 100 Music Easel synthesizer. Pulsing patterns, smooth enveloped sounds and lyrics, both sung and chanted, drift naturally through the record. Hearing the introduction of Smith’s vocals, almost three minutes into opener ‘First Flight’, stopped me in my thoughts the first time I heard it and continues to give me goosebumps.
Rob Frye (of Bitchin Bajas) decorates many of the tracks with acoustic woodwinds, complementing Smith’s intricate production. On ‘Envelope’, Frye’s winds lead the middle section of the track, whilst on ‘Rare Things Grow’, they harmonise neatly with her vocal melody.
Where ‘Rare Things Grow’ subtly makes use of Aphex Twin’s ‘Tha’, from Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, the use of field recordings explores the overarching theme of the album: nature. Each of the nine enticing tracks play upon this theme through their many textures and layers. Listened to in its entirety, however, the album immerses you in Smith's own vision of some faraway, intergalactic world.
For me, this interplay between two worlds: analogue and electronic, natural and cosmic, navigated through the use of synthesizer and woodwinds, makes this album as special as it is. I don’t doubt that we'll be seeing this topping ‘best of’ lists later this year.