composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith debuted with the
mini-albums Cows Will Eat the Weeds (2012) and Useful Trees (2012),
each containing seven Brian Eno-esque vignettes for guitar, piano and synth that straddle the borders between
new-age music, minimalism, ambient music and mellow fusion-jazz.
The gem is Alder that weds Enya and gamelan.
Tides (2014) contains ten movements of a one-hour composition
for natural sounds and delicate slowly-mutating electroacoustic textures.
Neither the 15-minute looping Tides I nor the
nine-minute droning Tides VIII
nor even the seven-minute Tides V offer sound that justifies their
Tides X is equally inept but at least the blend of accordion and chimes
over an organ drone yields a germ of an idea.
This is amateurish music for people who never listened to 40 years of
The new seven-song mini-album Euclid (Western Vinyl, 2015)
contains equally embarrassing exotic-tinged percussive dances, of which
Careen and Stunts have the highest pop value (at least they
are not as goofy as the "Brazilian" Sundry).
Labyrinth is a twelve-part composition that is difficult to appreciate
because it is difficult to listen to such childish music from beginning to end.
IV is the best imitation of
Terry Riley's Rainbow in Curved Air.
At least VIII mocks baroque music and reveals a sense of humor.
Ears (2016) contains seven medium-length "songs" and one juggernaut.
The swampy atmosphere a` la Jon Hassell
of Wetlands finally shows a bit of inspiration, the first time since
Alder; and When I Try I'm Full shows awareness of what
Meredith Monk has been doing for 40 years with the female voice.
After so many attempts, Smith finally crafts a somewhat memorable moment when
jungle percussions and Gato Barbieri-esque jazz collide in Rare Things Grow.
But First Flight is a trivial imitation of Oneohtrix Point Never until the vocals enter and then it becomes a
trivial Enya -esque lullaby.
The eleven-minute Existence In The Unfurling is three
stereotypes in one: first a decrepit synth-pop tune, then a nebula of
ambient electronica, and finally a fluttering minimalist movement
a` la Steve Reich.
The Kid (Western Vinyl, 2017)
contains 13 pieces, generally longer pieces than on previous releases.
The composition is not as inept as in the past but now the problem is
that Smith wants to sing.
An Intention is definitely a song, not just an instrumental piece
with some vocals floating around.
The exotic overtones of To Follow & Lead fully blossom in the
festive Until I Remember, her first successful song.
But the vocals ruin the percussive game A Kid
and the minimalist patterns of I Will Make Room For You,
and, while they don't
completely derail the savage tempest of In The World, they certainly
The vocals mingle better with the arrangements in In The World But Not Of The World, if nothing else because the dense sound buries them.
The instrumental novelty Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am seems to be
a leftover from a previous era.
The multi-layered clockwork of I Am Learning hits the dancefloor
and is probably a hint about her future direction.