Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith makes music which lives and breathes. In her breakthrough release EARS last year, organisms and vegetation flourished as if by their own mind. Yet when she made her return in 2017 with The Kid – armed again with her trademark Buchla synthesizer – Smith set her sights beyond the natural world and onto a subject somewhat more familiar: a human.
Structured by a narrative which tracks a life from birth to death, The Kid is Smith’s most enthralling release to date. As you flip over the vinyl from its A side through to its D side, the track titles read like a poem guiding you through its cycle: from the instinctive and childlike wonder of A Kid, through the warm solidity of her affirmative voice on To Follow And Lead, to conclude with a bittersweet refrain of “I’m gonna wake up one day and you won’t be there.” Though not an entirely new concept (see Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds’ debut Eulogy for Evolution), her otherworldly orchestra – rich in celestial flutters and swooping, processed vocals – transforms mortality into something refreshingly transcendental
With each listen brings the surprise of new details, enticing you to play it through over and over and over again. And the deeper you dive into her soundscapes (or, landscapes), the more staggering it is to comprehend that these are worlds which have been carefully crafted by her very fingertips. By erasing our preconception of what ‘electronic’ music sounds like, Smith breathes life into instruments and technologies which can otherwise feel so soullessly mechanic. The Kid is a singular and spectacular release: tranquil, visceral, sublime.
Words: Josie Roberts