An established figure on the fringes of dance music’s mainstream, Silvia Kastel’s explorations in noise, industrial and drone form a wonderfully avant-garde back catalogue of cassette tapes. Recognising a slight change in her approach, the Berlin-based producer recently identified herself as an artist ‘more interested in making light and shade coexist rather than indulging in the darkness.’ This new outlook rings true for her debut solo LP Air Lows, a record of expansive breadth which sways from distorted vocals to glowing synth chords, whilst touching on various nuances in between.
In a dreamily hypnotic introduction, opener Target sees Kastel’s softly echoing chant ‘lay back’ repeat over simmering synth vibrations. It’s a track for midnight gazing, its dusky electronics punctuated with twinkling astral bleeps. This sense of nocturnal ambience emanates throughout the album, seen in the hazy pulse of Air Mob and celestial eeriness of Spiderweb.
Cuts like Bruell are more kinetic, and display the profound scope of Kastel’s tonal palette. Cascading digital scales and cosmic synths wash over the soundscape, creating both moments of harmony and dissonance in a delightfully off-kilter affair. Softer colours emerge in Concrete Void, where Kastel’s muffled vocals contrast with crystalline chimes, intricately descending as if softly falling water droplets.
Ethereally atmospheric, the music on Air Lows feels as if its constantly breathing, contracting and expanding to build moments of tension and release. The result is a mesmerising album which offers both stillness and noise, darkness and light, in a limitless examination of sonic space.
Words: Georgia Tobin