Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SWL #52: Red Alder, "Felted"

Kelsie Brown’s long-running Red Alder project has always been marked by subtle, but deliberate change. From the ambient, classical noir of 2011’s ‘Dissociation’, to the whispered introspection of 2012’s ‘Empty Staircase’ and ‘2013’, Brown's works have always demonstrated a knack for both sonic refinement and exploration.

So, given her track record, it’s not shocking that the first single from her upcoming record would investigate new territory, especially given her promise on 'Empty Stairscases' to end the moniker for good. However, “Felted” is more than just a "subtle change" for Brown, it's a massive shift in approach. The most dramatic and definitely the riskiest change is the addition of a 4/4 house beat amidst the piano work, but it’s worth noting that Brown’s voice is much more prominently featured than it has been on previous efforts.

The results definitely speak for themselves; this track is amazing. The constant beat feels almost like a second hand ticking its way around the clock, which adds a really slick temporal component to the tense ambiance that Brown is expert at cultivating. In the past, Brown has abundantly demonstrated that her work is on par with contemporaries like Jessica Bailiff or Grouper, but “Felted” is a track that almost trends, albeit cautiously, toward the output of more beat-conscious labels like 100% Silk or  Hippos in Tanks as well. To sum all of this up: if you weren’t anxiously awaiting her new record before, then you really should be after this.

Need more? You're in luck. Red Alder was just added to the bill tomorrow night (March 5) over at Lo-Fi alongside Tredecimal, Screens, and Loyalty is Blue. Should be a good one.

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