What does Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith sound like?
A magical shower of synths, beats, ideas and chirpy 8-bit yoga turned into a TV channel surf and switch album.
The review of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Let’s Turn It Into Sound
It’s taken several weeks for me to form some train of thought about Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s new album. From her love of calm yoga synths to abstract beats and weird glitchy vocoder synths, each of her albums beforehand has had a direct style. ‘Let’s Turn It Into Sound’ is like we are TV channel hopping in Kaitlyn’s head. Every station is a type of music she wants to create and we are constantly flicking channels mid song.
It is overwhelming and absolutely stunning at the same time. It’s also some of her most abstract, shapeshifting and strangest work mixed with some of her most direct songwriter-styled song-structured work too. As a result, it feels like you are enjoying several albums all at once.
Every song morphs. Take “Pivot Signal” for example. It starts off as a mixture of circus organs and synths, before morphing into watery Vocaloid transcendence. That turns into a Phillip Glass arpeggio-filled synth brass arrangement before other wind instruments colour the mix. “Unbraid: The Merge” is an ethereal mix of vocal breathe samples that turn into off-kilter and unusual synth vocal choral arrangements and then we get a retro disco samba second half with dramatic synth underscoring the vocal arrangement. Elsewhere opening track “Have You Felt Lately?” opens up with a blast of crazy circus pop with warped vocals. Then we drift into ambient before aggressive glitch beats spiral into an epileptic trance only to land on water bubbles and bass clarinets. The song’s outro is a light electronic dance hum. Pardon?
This scale of throwing in so many unusual sounds continues to spiral into wonderous and chaotic playtime for Kaitlyn. Whether she’s creating a warped dreamland in “Locate” that spits out into pitch-bent chaos, or it is something more beat and glitch pop-focused like “Check Your Translation”, you’ll be guessing what’s coming next. Every track is a pleasant surprise. What surprises me more is that play, fun and elation spill out of the speakers at every note and step. “Give to the Water” is just an uplifting vocal and synth glide. “Let it Fall” bustles and pushes all the instrumentation into a weird “follow the vocal” dance as Kaitlyn avoids making any direct melody with her voice at all. The central six-and-a-half-minute “Is it Me or is it You” will take you from the yoga mat to the dance floor and back again several times. There is such beauty in the creation, you can’t help but get swept away by it.
Do I understand everything that Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has made here? Hell no! I feel like after a few weeks I’m only just getting beneath the surface. I want to explore why the album flicks about like quick TV channel shifts. Why all of the strange instrument choices? Let me pick apart the absolutely absurd vocal treatments to make Kaitlyn sound like Miku Hatsune. I feel like this album is going to become a cult favourite for me in the years to come and grow into a 10/10 album for me in the long term. Crucially, it made me hear sound in a very different way and for that, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith deserves all my praise. Bravo.
Recommended track: Unbraid: The Merge
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