There’s a common danger with well-journeyed ambient and experimental music to lose sight of the concept from the sound, or the sound from the concept. But a decade’s worth of work from Los Angeles-based composer, artist and producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has seen sound and concept in an abnormally happy marriage. Her Ghostly label debut, The Mosaic of Transformation, perhaps most strikingly exhibited the union in a love letter to electricity, sonically gliding through scintillating rushes of massage room serenity to warm crackles behind analogue strings, woodwind and melodious sirenic choruses.
Following the completion of a two-part collaboration with Hollywood composer Emile Mosseri, I Could Be Your Dog / I Could Be Your Moon, Smith’s second full-length release of the year, Let’s Turn It into Sound, is a complete aural makeover. Her new age affinities are boldened by a baroque conviction, for the first time delving into the self-penned world of ‘avant-pop’. But for all its adventure, the concepts that have made Smith’s music so wide-eyed and alluring in the past are traded for an abnormal bravado, like a kid so excited by their new Lego toy that they only see the bricks.
Thankfully, whilst the concept rarely progresses from “listen to these sounds!”, there’s enough technicolour in Smith’s music that it’s still a brilliantly disorientating use of 40 minutes. Through flickering synths, primitive arpeggios and simulated horns – even an atonal chorus that wouldn’t sound out-of-place sung by Richard Dawson – these songs within songs peek around corners, over twinkling ambient beds lost in their own starry polyphony, with great intrigue but little direction.
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