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Kara-Lis Coverdale’s sublime sophomore side of post-sacred music becomes the first vinyl edition on her new label Gate, following its keenly sought-after 2015 tape release with a vital reminder of the Canadian composer’s early and enduring genius.
Iridescent with optimistic melody and holographic harmony, ‘Aftertouches’ was Coverdale’s first release to gain widespread recognition, placing her elusive music firmly in the upper echelons of contemporary composition. It was duly hailed as a masterwork of postmodern musical craft, building on the low-key but leading examples of her tentative ‘A 480’ (2014) tape with a flourishing development of an intrepid, dream-weaving and world building style.
Using readily available samples and filigree production techniques, Coverdale gives voice to her machines’ memory banks in nine perceptively absorbing explorations of the “uncanny valley” located between known and simulated worlds. She beautifully transfigures virtual choirs into coded realism, drawing upon a fine-honed balance of discipline and intuition, learned from years of playing church organ, to create a bridge between medieval, classical and 20th century formalism, and 21st century soundspheres.
The album’s heady array of shatterproof choral vocals and dematerialised strings remains among the lushest, most intangible and thizzing explorations of the space between classical and experimental realms released during the 2010s. And, most remarkably, done in a way that had simply not been realised so fully in this sphere prior to Coverdale’s emergence as a notable, often subversive, figure within her field; lighting the path ahead in a manner comparable to the likes of James Ferraro or Arca, but gifted with a truly singular spirit.