Needle Drop:
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, The Mosaic of Transformation

Of course, ambient music is far more multifaceted than the categorizations of drone and electronic might infer. Folks of a certain age were likely to have first encountered it in relation to one Brian Eno, or if not him, then possibly in connection to the then burgeoning New Age/ Environmental/ Space Music/ Kosmische experience.

Modular synthesizers, including those created by Don Buchla (like the Buchla Music Easel) played a considerable role in that uprising (as it were), and the music of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has been one of the finest examples of his synths in the 21st century, especially the run of releases spanning from 2015’s Euclid, 2016’s Ears, 2017’s The Kid, and her subsequent founding of Touchtheplants, which is described in Ghostly’s PR as a “multidisciplinary creative environment” fostering projects including her Electronic Series recordings and pocket-sized poetry books devoted to “the practice of listening within.”

Naturally, much of Smith’s music falls into the realms of ambient, though it’s better characterized through the expanded title of the 2019 vinyl reissue of her 2013 digital-only release Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga. Now, considering this background and the title of this new one, you could be forgiven for expecting a certain ambient-meditative thing, but Smith isn’t so easily encapsulated (and stereotyped) as she wholly embraces her music’s potential for growth and healing.

The Mosaic of Transformation isn’t an ambient LP, although it is electronic, in fact is body music, but not in the way you might think. Instead of dance music in the common sense, the selections here were produced by physical movement sending currents through her mod synths and then “into the air through speakers.” Each day she would transform the prior day’s work into something else. There is song structure, and there are vocals, but the whole remains as distinctive as Smith’s work has been thus far. That’s great.

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