Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid - 2017 Exp Downtempo Ambient Electronic 2LP
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid
Western Vinyl – WV170
2 × Vinyl, LP, Album
06 Oct 2017
A1 I Am A Thought
A2 An Intention
A3 A Kid
A4 In The World
B1 I Am Consumed
B2 In The World, But Not Of The World
B3 I Am Learning
B4 To Follow & Lead
C1 Until I Remember
C2 Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am
D1 I Am Curious, I Care
D2 I Will Make Room For You
D3 To Feel Your Best
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( Pitchfork) " her latest record The Kid stands apart as her most immediate and accessible yet. Though its narrative follows a human lifespan through four developmental stages, from newborn bewilderment to a calm acceptance of death, the album flows seamlessly from its initial burbles to its melancholy finish. There are no chapter markers, and if you’d rather ignore the concept behind the compositions, Smith makes it easy to enjoy the music without mapping it to a story. Then again, it’s a story that doesn’t take a lot of concentration: If you’ve been born, grown up, and encountered death, you already know it by heart.
While some contemporary synthesists (like SOPHIE or Arca) emphasize the artificiality of their medium, Smith prefers to draw out its organic qualities—the way sounds churned from electricity can sound like weather, or rustling leaves, or burrowing animals. On The Kid, she loops humanity into that ecosystem, entangling her vocals in fluttering arpeggios and corkscrewing bass. Though her voice drives most songs on The Kid, she never treats it as separate from the rest of her arsenal. It’s not an embellishment slapped on top of an otherwise complete instrumental; it’s wholly integrated into the complex webbing of each piece. There’s a stunning moment on “A Kid” when the beat falls away and Smith sings through filters at several simultaneous pitches. She sounds like an organ that’s learned to articulate syllables, both singer and instrument at the same time. Distorted, multi-tracked, shifted, and still addictively tuneful, Smith’s voice humanizes the work without breaking the spell she casts while commanding her machines.
That the human body is inextricable from the rest of the world seems to be the point. While writing the album, Smith took inspiration from the work of British philosopher Alan Watts, whose lectures tend to emphasize the interconnectedness of all life. People might be isolated sensorily, but all of us come from, and return to, the earth. Smith seizes upon this concept with joy. Her compositions, some of which incorporate orchestral instruments played by the Stargaze collective, overflow with texture and detail. Compared to her more reserved prior albums, 2015’s Euclid and 2016’s EARS, The Kid at times plays almost like Grimes’ alien electro-pop or Caribou’s house-indebted beats. There’s stomp and bite to tracks like “To Follow & Lead” that Smith has never quite indulged before. Without sacrificing her ear for detail, she’s engineered an album that sparks a bodily pleasure alongside her music’s continued cerebral delights.
Even as The Kid rolls to a stop on an explicitly mournful note, Smith extracts as much joy as possible from the sadness. “To Feel Your Best” confronts the thought that everyone you’ll ever love will die with the same verve as the Flaming Lips on “Do You Realize??” Against the chirps of her synthesizers, Smith sings, “I’m gonna wake up one day and you won’t be there/’Cause I care that’s why I stare… I’m gonna miss miss miss will miss your face.” It’s a sobering thought, to memorize the contours of a loved one’s face because you’re pretty sure you’ll outlive them, but Smith treats it gently. There is beauty in that impulse, as there’s beauty in all the human impulses The Kid excavates—and celebrates—so gracefully."