ALBUM OF THE DAY
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, “Let’s Turn It Into Sound”
By Ted Davis August 23, 2022
Kaitlyn Aurelia SmithThe career of reflects a curious paradox: the more it consolidates its place as a key player in ambient music, the more its music becomes an indescribable creature in its own right. Smith began creating mellow soundscapes on releases like Euclid and EARS, which led to a collaboration with the legend of Buchla Suzanne Ciani on his 2016 escape Sunergyan album ordered for RVNG International.’s FRKWYS series. But in recent years, Smith has explored more varied and conceptual terrain. His 2017 awards the child was a 13-track rendition of the four stages of life. May’s joint effort with composer Emilie Mosseri, I could be your dog / I could be your moon, blurred the lines between ethereal synth work and percussive neo-psych. Smith’s last, Let’s turn it into sound, might be his most radical detour yet. Recorded over three intense and lonely months in his home studio, it struggles with the emotional complexity that underscores this complicated socio-political moment. The end result moves away from its usual shimmering atmospheres, in favor of more propulsive and catchy textures.
Let’s turn it into sound has a few airy moments, but, for the most part, it’s better suited to the club than the sound bath. “There’s Something” begins as a fluorescent slice of neoclassical choral music, but evolves into a dull, danceable song that feels like it may have fallen from the heyday of British dubstep. On “Give to the Water,” Smith manipulates his vocals into a metallic, digitized blur to create one of the most bubbly cuts on the record. And it’s hard not to hear the footsteps of Oneohtrix Point Never’s Drawn and cut and R Plus Seven on tracks like “Then The Wind Came” and “Pivot Signal”. For an artist whose characteristic mood is generally dark and esoteric, Let’s turn it into sound is united by a sort of neon-drenched futurism.
Smith grew up on Orcas Island, Washington, a remote island in Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, and she was never quiet about the impact that this stunning, bucolic upbringing had on his early work. She’s moved around a lot over the past few years and her new LA base seems to be taking shape. Let’s turn it into sound. These modernist compositions and their preoccupation with the impending realities of unnatural evolution are more reminiscent of the stucco malls and wildfires of Southern California than the fog, pines and blue-gray waters that surrounded Smith when she first became interested in music. If any of the tracks here appeared in random mode, you might have a hard time recognizing it as Smith’s, which is exactly what makes Let’s turn it into sound such an impressive and surprising display of musical dexterity.
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