Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Euclid
It is a good thing when music is as complex as its listeners – as in the case with Euclid (42’31”) by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Meticulously constructed, intuitively crafted, it moves intelligently across so many aspects of the soundfield. Possessing unusual gifts, Smith plays with an ear for color, motion and texture. Vibrantly animated, the sounds and tones on Euclid are pushed, pulled, coaxed and commanded to shape a separate realm – one where different rules apply, but nevertheless reflect truths about our own. In a blurred choreography of slider tweaking flitting fingers the composer moves with purpose across the surface of an electric music box, shaping sound and mood in real time. We do not know these moves are coming, which makes for an interesting ride. In a unique take on performance, Smith rises above the robotic impassivity of her instruments, and produces a range of new and refreshing works. Some of the 18 tracks on Euclid represent an elemental stylized simplicity, while others are finely draped in spirited synthesized colors. There is an energy, a special spark, present throughout Euclid. There are few, if any, negative spaces. This album sometimes approaches stillness, but only on the way to another one of its motion-filled sonic scenarios. Sequencers circulate enjoyable patterns of cascading tones, and follow pleasant key changes and chord motion. Just when a texture or rhythm seems to establish itself, a tide of creative current rolls the piece onto its next logical level. For Spacemusic fans, this rapid development may feel initially disorienting, so we must learn to appreciate every well-conceived sound before its brief life span expires. Buzzing notes shimmer with immediacy above pulsing, popping arpeggio runs. Crunchy laptop sounds momentarily draw our attention away from the slipping foundation of pumping e-beats. Smith’s heavily processed voice occasionally sings like an electrified angel, or gets layered atop synthetic drones. In a gentle descent, the tone may shift in new and radical ways, yet always feels connected to its electronic ancestors. We finish this album sated, but craving to do it all over again. Euclid may be a good example of the technical basis of Electronic Music, but not its disciplinary basis. For all her education in music and technology, the biggest thing Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith relies on in her work seems to be her heart.