Kara-Lis Coverdale - Grafts LP
Label: Boomkat Editions
This record sort of changed Boomkat Editions' life, and probably changed many of yours too. It was originally released as part of 12x12, a series of one-sided releases the label started back in 2017 and which is still ongoing. It's a release that seemed to capture the imagination of pretty much everyone; it felt like it was licensed, playlisted, and written about all over the place. What Boomkat Editions didn't know though, until a while after it came out, was that Grafts also had a B-side, a 20-minute piece called "Undo" which was omitted because the series was one-sided. Here it is: the extended, two-sided edition of Grafts.
A sublime and quietly hypnotic work belied by steadfast conceptual rigor, "Grafts" (the A-side) is deployed in three parts of cascading yet plaintive multi-instrumental gestures, expanding on the processing and self-temperament techniques explored on Kara-Lis Coverdale's 2014's A 480 into a more encompassing palette. Uncompromisingly distinct while redolent of modal minimalism, '70s new age, and folk music, "Grafts" effectively blurs distinctions between traditional composition and more open, overlapping genres that hover in the half-light between acoustic and electronic refinement. Rather than anything grandiose or explicitly seductive, the effect of "Grafts" is best compared with the subtle intoxication of micro-dosing on LSD or the clarity afforded by quiet meditation, in a sense dilating the listener's focus to a heightened awareness of the piece's intricate peripheral tones as much as its melodic center ground, with a beautifully understated, surreal resolution. The piece flickers with gentle optimism, never at random, illuminating unseen spaces that quickly gradient into nothingness. "Undo" on the flip is its previously unheard cathartic coda. A moment of contemplation, afterwards, captured in suspended animation. It's breathtaking, beautiful. Frames of reference are numerous and on the face of it largely disconnected here; The Köln Concert, Clare Fischer's sweeping arrangements for Prince, the deviant pop instinct of Arthur Russell, the organic/synthetic love songs of Art of Noise, the meditative, almost hallucinogenic spiraling compositions of Philip Glass and Terry Riley, the intoxicated minimal romance of Erik Satie.