Sunday, July 5, 2020
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Artist: Calika
Title: small talk kills me
Format: CD
Label: Audiobulb Records (@)
Distributor: Audiobulb Records UK
Rated: *****
It took most unusual CD to prompt me into writing reviews again. It’s not that I haven’t heard a lot of good music lately, just the opposite. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in the past few months and my focus has become somewhat skewed. Be that as it may, leave it to Audiobulb Records to release a CD so different and intriguing that I can’t help but be impressed.
Calika’s small talk kills me ’ is one of those rare recordings that stimulates right-brain activity in such a subtle way that you may hardly be aware of it until you’ve experienced repeated listenings. On first impression, Calika’s music falls into the electronic glitch-n-paste category with a smattering of acoustic guitar and sing-songy wordless vocal samples scattered here and there. As a background sound palette, there is a feel of random activity over repeated patterns of disjunct melody. What’s really happening though, is that you’re entering into a completely different audial world, where conventional structure is abandoned, giving way to a new mode of expression where an ever-changing, evolving tonal mood within the deepest realms of imagination.
At times the music crosses into the realm of the psychedelic, and we get the first hint of what could almost be considered a jam’ on track # 5, "We Slaves Nine 25". Beyond that, abstract hallucinatory terrain is traversed and you get the feeling that you’re no longer in the concrete world as you know it. There are sonic elements that may cause windows of memory to open and reveal things long forgotten. Perhaps one of the most dramatic shifts occurs in track #9, "Calm Laid Her Head To Have A Nightmare" and the track title is most apropos. A placid melodic repetition gradually gives way to a grumbling chordal drone that seems to go on for an uncomfortable period of time, then suddenly stops- as if the listener has suddenly awoken from a bad dream.
More abstract hallucinatory terrain follows, and by this time, consciousness is stretched and bent in so many directions you’ll be hard-pressed to get your bearings. It is almost like stepping into a funhouse of the mind, and after this carnival of acousma is over, you’ll come out with an altogether new perspective, although you won’t be able be able to put your finger on why. And even when it seems to be over, it’s still not over. A hidden (untitled) 15th track reels you back in lest you forget the last 80 minutes you spent in wonderland.
Where most glitch-n-paste experimental music fails for me is in the lack of conceptual cohesion and too much percussive bombardment with too little payoff. Definitely not the case here. Calika has assembled something marvelous and special. If you’re a fan of Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Oval or Plaid you’ve just GOT to pick up this CD. Available directly from Audiobulb in the UK, and probably at your electronic music specialty shop, wherever you buy all the good stuff.

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