Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV, ‘Sirens’

Posted by on May 29, 2015

klc lxv umor

Umor Rex, 5.8.2015

Since launching in 2006, Umor Rex has, for the most part, led a noble campaign for finding exploratory experimental, synthetic music with actual heart. While the Mexico City-based imprint has flirted with its love for wispy folk and electronic music of all shapes and sizes, Umor Rex’s finest moments have come to reveal themselves in alien obscurities with a human touch.

Label founder and designer Daniel Castrejón sources the audio from all over the world, pulling sounds both locally and from afar and achieving quite possibly the boldest statements from his stable roster of artists. Félicia Atkinson’s impeccable Visions / Voices compilation and Safiyya’s (aka Brad Rose and Pat Murano) Shareek Hayaat — both from 2013 — hoist then fringe projects into the spotlight, balancing equally foreboding sets of sonic excursions, each beautiful in its own ways. Last year, Umor kicked things into high gear, releasing master works by Good Willsmith, Dino Spiluttini and Nils Quak, Charlatan, Driftmachine, M. Geddes Gengras, and a slew of stunning cassettes by Derek Rogers, Maar, and Sima Kim and Wouter van Veldhoven, among others. Earlier this year, the imprint released the debut LP by James Place, aka Phil Tortoroli of Style Upon Styles and Fossil, an album that demonstrated the New Yorker’s willingness to dive head-first into his own fragmented path from the crowded herd. All of this to say, Umor Rex has sponsored and curated some of the most sincere works of modern electronic music, taking chances and reaping each worthy reward along the way.

That poise is more than upheld by Sirens, the first statement from Kara-Lis Coverdale and LXV (David Sutton). Each artist has made a run on the experimental game in recent years, but bring completely different toolsets to the table. Coverdale, who hails from Montreal and has collaborated with Tim Hecker — specifically on his Virgins LP in 2013 — creates agile and airy sets of processed symphonies that drift in loose choreographs of sound. Most notably, Coverdale’s Aftertouches cassette on Sacred Phrases highlighted her approach with maxed-out elegance, nodding to everyone from Steve Reich to Max Richter but with an eager sense of disfigured beauty. Sutton, now based in Philadelphia, revels in a reverie of edits and processed samples, deploying a strobing set of glitching meditations and flurried tone studies.

Sirens finds the two producers teaming up for a hypnotic run of tonal epiphanies and seductive synth suites, blurring the lines between Coverdale and Sutton’s musical attributes for something entirely new and unexpectedly refreshing. “Tunnel Vision” succinctly sets the tone for the ensuing narrative. Coyly unfurling a series of extracted and abstracted bells and chimes, the track presents a warped warble that’s both engaging and sinister. Oddly angled chords and distant drones soon take shape. The elusive tapestry soon pulls in shifting tones, anxious piano loops, and affected samples of hurried breath in a subtle miasma of narcotic bliss. “Territory of Subtle Entries” focuses more on synthetic voice, shuffling through cloudy air and post-sci-fi romance. “Disney” happens to be the longest track in the set but also turns out to be the true centerpiece, drawing out a series of movements and fleeting flashes of momentary revelation. The extended suite lends itself to A-side closer “Grigori in Jakarta,” a piano-focused piece that burns like a remote campfire, providing warmth and hope in a moment of isolation. Embers trail up into the air in uncalculated arcs of fleeting life.

“Buffering Landscape” kicks off the B-side with even more optimism with Coverdale’s layered and looped vocals wafting in with more presence than fellow lo-fi chanter Julianna Barwick. The a cappella soon dissolves into a blurred collage of noirish tones, organ-fed drones, and somber piano notes. “Subfall (To)” veers deep into the patiently curious atmospherics established by Windham Hill’s crew of open-minded ambient producers, but modernizes that vibe with much darker, cooler tendencies. Closers “Borrowed Memory (From)” and “Informant” bow the LP out with utter grace, unravelling the aural thread woven throughout Sirens‘ preceding sounds.

More than a feather in Umor Rex’s cap, Sirens naturally accomplishes its mission to find a true sense of humanity in synthetic music.