nedjelja, 8. rujna 2013.

Katie Gately - Katie Gately (2013)

Jezoviti mehanički svjetovi ruše se na gnijezda ljudskih glasova u 22. stoljeću.

Again we search into West Coast skies to an artist reaching for them. To Los Angeles, to Katie Gately. Still in the throes of academe we find her, playing at new pop forms. 
This here record in bloom is a bold and exciting taster of what is in store, around the corner. Six tracks of frightening ambition. A prime distillation in computer-music-pop. More alarming - this is her debut release, she has been making organised sound for just over a year. 
Screech ,crumble, gurgle, crack.... the opening track “Ice” a storm of cluster tones and sequenced-bursts sets the standard. Then, to a potential Top10 smasher... gone mutant. “Last Day” is the first time we hear Katie’s voice, first looped and torn, then glowing, euphoric and beaming from deep inside a crashing-banging-beat system... "I awoke from a little hole underneath the earth..." 
We follow similar patterns across this half-dozen. Fractured vocalisations, bittersweet harmonies, freaked alien voices all living, breathing in deep fried motherboards of acute computer programming and field sound. “Dead Referee” finds Katie on a post-apocalypse Basketball court, destroying waves of squeaks and crunches and cuts with a vocal refrain of high beauty, it Knifes through the noise. 
Then, to “Left Half” the haunting reverb-calm before storm.... I’m gonna’ sew your face to my heart she whispers... “Stems” closes the record in a riot of tone and interference and alien acappella. 
This is a new approach toward brighter days, mangled, beautiful, sun-reaching 23C Pop Musik for troubled times.

Public Information are this week presenting the first collection from Katie Gately (no relation to Stephen, Phil tells me), a Los Angeles native who has been making music for little over a year (the press release tells me). This is sophisticated-sounding stuff indeed, though, with Gately diving headfirst into the realms of harsh computer noise right from the get-go on ‘Ice’, an unsettling opener which braces the listener for any abrasiveness they’ll have to handle later in the record via a sequence of harsh squeaks, squelches and clanks that make me feel like I’m about to have a heart attack.
Thankfully the remainder of the first side is much less daunting, with Katie’s voice featuring prominently on both, with queasily soothing layers wrapping around one another in cut-up stop-start dreampop delirium which falls somewhere between the soothing self-harmonising of Julia Holter and the more uneasy loop-play of Ela Orleans’s more out-there offerings such as those found on her ‘NEO PI-R’ LP. Unlike those two, who remain in thrall to the analogue sounds of the past, Gately instead pushes forwards into computerised territory, replacing the warm crackle and wibble with the surgical precision and extreme waveform-manipulation possibilities of a digitised set-up.
It’s like pure pop viewed through a violent post-apocalyptic computer lens, with the lush melodies and bold, accessible structures always paired off almost self-sabotagingly against ominous and often totally head-frying power electronics. If you’re into the likes of Grimesand Laurel Halo but wish they were a bit more gnarly and fucked up, this might be just the record you’re looking for! - Norman Records

The Public Information label is fast developing a reputation for uncovering unusual talent. First there was the occluded techno of Bay Area producer Austin Cesear, then Acteurs’ excellently moody post-Ike Yard schtick. Now the UK imprint returns to the West Coast for the debut release from Katie Gately. Comparisons between Gately and another recently emerged avant-pop artist, Holly Herndon, are inevitable, so let’s get them out of the way early. Yes, both are affiliated with academic institutions (Gately is a grad student at LA’s USC School of Cinematic Arts). And yes, both make an abstracted, highly synthetic form of contemporary pop of which their own voice is a central feature. But in contrast to the surgical-going-on-sterile precision of Herndon’s Movement LP, Gately’s approach is wilder, looser, arguably less disciplined.
This may partly be down to her experience. Gately has apparently been making music for just a year, and a handful of tracks on her Soundcloud chart a developing style over that period – one which periodically veers towards the fringes of pop before dancing away into weirdo ambience and more solemn computer music climes. This self-titled LP continues in that vein. There is a winsome naivety here, and a subtle playfulness, which drains away any latent academic seriousness. Take opener ‘Ice’: its rapid bursts and smears of material are, in fine academic computer music tradition, almost pointillist in construction. But underneath a single dolorous bell-like tone, pitched down and down with ponderous predictability, imbues the whole thing with an almost satirical level of pomp – an impression helped along by the steady descent into anarchy in the latter half
Elsewhere, granted, Gately proves she can be serious too. The sinister ‘Left Half’ features a single declamatory vocal phrase looped, fragmented and increasingly lost behind thick sheet-drone atmospherics. ‘Dead Referee’ is even more po-faced, a reverb-drenched synth-pop dirge over which Gately’s vocal is sing-song but precise – though, again, a thinly restrained taste for chaos wins out at the midpoint. Perhaps surprisingly, a few moments here suggest parallels with the grime abstractions of Fatima Al Qadiri and Visionist. ‘Last Day’ and ‘Stings’ both feature near-weightless grooves constructed from found sounds – distant explosions, cocking guns etc. – and at points Gately refracts her vocal into a cloud of re-pitched phonemes in a manner eerily similar to Al Qadiri’s Desert Strike EP. Still, in both cases they end up somewhere else entirely – the former in a wide-eyed, folksy incantation reminiscent of Animal Collective, the latter in cosseted bedroom electronica, all soft-edged chords and jangly xylophone.
All of these tracks are highly ambitious in construction, and at points they suffer from a lack of mixing finesse. For the most part, though, the audacity of Gately’s ideas carries her through. Closer ‘Stems’ is the most gripping thing here – particularly its fascinating opening chorale, a vividly unreal a capella assemblage equal parts glossy and sickly. Gately’s debut may lack polish in places, but it shows considerable promise. -

Everyone has a few records that make them genuinely afraid. Maybe you were seven years old and heard “Ghost Riders In The Sky” and suddenly the abstract concept of death clicked for the first time. Maybe it was the lead singer of Throbbing Gristle reciting descriptions of human suffering over droney electronic static. Maybe you ingested something at a club once, and the lurching rumble of DVS1′s “Falling” instilled a deep sense of being utterly alone, even in the middle of a packed dance floor.

Music that touches an uncomfortable or vulnerable place is also endlessly fascinating, and the songs that make the world feel as if it could crumple into itself at any moment are also ones that we revisit, transfixed by their grip over us. Katie Gately’s debut mini LP on Public Information is absolutely one of these terrifying records, if only because it mutates what once could have been called pop music into a lurching, mangled golem of its former self. It’s an album that evokes the panic of hearing scrambled screams through a cell phone where something horrible is happening, a debut that barrels out of the gate with so much brazen assuredness and so many layers that it’s easy to forget that it’s Gately’s first release, and that she’s been creating music for under a year.
If you’re looking for dissonance, look no further than the appropriately apocalyptic “Last Day” – where Gately’s vocals spiral around an unsettling percussion pattern that sounds like a heavy metal pipe being dragged slowly along concrete floors. Her voice is that of a classically trained singer, which is why it feels all the more eviscerating when she tears and distorts her own chants. Beautiful while also being the stuff of bolt-awake-gasping nightmares.
Perhaps comparisons to Andy Stott’s collaboration with his youth-era piano teacher Alison Skidmore are unavoidable - after all, both Stott and Gately show a natural talent for deftly manipulating vocals into foreboding house textures. But even beyond that, both artists have a keen awareness that their productions are compelling because they’re on the verge of falling apart – in an interview last October, Stott describes how much he likes the Luxury Problems cover art because ”the lady’s doing such a controlled dive, and it could quite easily go wrong. It represents the fine line between the point of control and being a mess.”
Gately understands this concept perfectly, and her knack for plucking the most disconcerting sound effects possible out of the subliminal unconsciousness are used deftly in tracks like “Stings”, within which a hissing radiator hum can be heard crackling around the Los Angeles native’s voice, while pinprick percussion tinkles around the track. For every moment of quiet vocal exhalation, there’s a dissonant thrum just around the corner, waiting to sink its hooks into you.
But “Dead Referee” is where Gately really unhinges her power. It’s a tough track to talk about, because on one hand, it’s quite funny. It feels like “The Courts” by Jam City slowed to a sludgy drawl; shot-clock buzzers sounding, squeaks and dribbling noises scattered across the track. At the same time, there’s a moment at about 2:38 that sounds more like the aural embodiment of pure death than any black metal I’ve heard in my life. It’s the sound of sheared-off limbs, heads encased in intestines, the useless pre-death “why me?” that everyone probably wonders. Terrifying stuff, especially on a good sound system, and perhaps what I find genuinely perplexing about this record is how it can twist a sports-themed track into something genuinely troubling.
“Left Half” finds Gately repeating the dubiously romantic mantra “I’m gonna sew your face to my heart” while a hissing fog of ambience rises up around the words, slowly obscuring their meaning, but it’s really ”Dead Referee” that gets to the crux of everything achieved on this record – scary, gorgeous, and a pastiche of pop and noise sounds completely unlike anything this writer has heard. Hands down, Gately has created one of the most unique listening experiences of the year. In a press release, her debut is championed as “Pop Musik for troubled times”, but that’s just skimming the surface: it’s a listen that makes utter annihilation sound like a pretty decent way to go. - Brendan Arnott

A friend sent me this article last week and it elicited an immediate “WTF: HOW HAVE I NOT KNOWN OF THIS??” reaction. It was a response based in voracious musical appetite and wild surprise as the artist in question—Katie Gately—is an experimental music maker from Los Angeles. She arrives at music from a very techy point of view, one that actually was made through her work in film and sound editing. Her latest release “Last Day” is a booming dark pop statement of arrival, a song so rich and crisp that it might even cool you down on such a hot day.
Katie is currently attending graduate school at USC for Film Production, where she has studied sound design and has been able to tie in previous studies in music philosophy. This knowledge paired with an experimental, electronic packaging easily makes Katie comparable to Holly Herndon, another artist deeply based in academia and colliding the human voice with the computer. Katie’s work relies on the mundane, using those sounds to craft elaborate sonic worlds. “Last Day” is a gloomy, booming song that sounds like a ghost stuck inside of a record player decided to make its own music. There is a heavy, dropping base to the song that she places her warped and layered vocals atop of, which sound like a mixture of ghostly bellowing and angelic cooing. This mixture of sound textures makes for a simultaneously light and weighed song: it could have easily taken a turn for the industrial or have taken a turn toward chamber pop. The juxtaposition of these two worlds make “Last Day” an incredible, dynamic listen. - Kyle Fitzpatrick

On her self-titled debut EP, Katie Gately weaves silky pop vocals and field recordings processed beyond all recognition into cold, abrasive soundscapes.
She is a film producer and sound designer, and as such her role is more that of editor than composer as she processes and stitches together bits of recordings into ghostly montages. Packed with beguiling, often-unidentifiable samples,the Katie Gately EP evokes desolated urban landscapes with a visual fidelity and attention to atmospherics that seem inseparable from Gately’s background in film.
Ahead of the EP’s release on Public Information and an all-vocal tape forthcoming on Blue Tapes, FACT spoke to her about the journey from film and sound design to music and her obsession with the world’s infinite library of sounds.
You’re arriving quite out of the blue with a really exciting record, so could you tell me a bit about your life and when you started making music?
Well, I grew up in Brooklyn. After college in Minnesota, where I got obsessed with field recording and phonography, I came back to NYC to explore sound design until about 2009 when I moved out to Los Angeles. I’m currently a graduate student in Film Production at USC in a programme that includes sound design courses.
As an undergrad I studied philosophy and focused on Philosophy of Music, particularly music and emotion. I was looking for a logical reason why abstract or wordless music moves us emotionally and why we seek out sad music. Catharsis is the initial instinct, but when you try to defend it with logic, you sound insane – because humans are insane! But that is a big part of why we’re so awesome and beautiful. So I was kind of happy I couldn’t find satisfying answers to those questions.
I never played an instrument legitimately but I always wanted to – I just kept failing miserably! I was the music director at my college radio station for four years and that was how I really studied music closely, as a fan and listener. Then around the spring of 2012, I realised that if I could mix a film, I could probably learn how to properly produce a song. Even if it was the worst song ever made, I was too in love with music to be afraid of it any more. So I took a music production class to acquaint myself the basic conventions of electronic music and mixing, and then I locked myself inside last summer, stopped working on films and just started making music compulsively. That’s been my lifestyle through the fall and into this past spring when my label found my work online.
“I love to celebrate the underdog – that’s where the field recording and phonography comes in.”

And now you have a record. How did it come together?
The songs are mostly a reflection of the past year and being a film student. I wanted a break from cause and effect, story, character and exposition; to create a world where anything I felt was permitted and didn’t need to be pitched beforehand. I just realised I needed to follow through on my own sonic fantasies and music felt like the right way to do that.
Who would you say had a bearing on the songs you wrote?
When I started diving deeper into music last summer, I was really hooked on Dr. Octagonecologyst by Dr. Octagon. It is such a beautiful example of building your own playpen, committing to how weird you are and letting that shine. That record inspires me to trust my own instincts. There’s also a composer out here in LA called Tom Recchion. When I started school, we had to make a lot of short films in a short period of time. I was so sleep-deprived all I wanted to make was demented daytime horror movies. So I did, and I wrote all of them to Recchion’s Chaotica. It offers up every sensation of what it is to be alive: the complexity, goofiness, off-kilter creepiness, some romance, mystery and a little chaos. I want to inhabit a similar headspace to these kinds of artists. There are a lot of current musicians that I admire too – my recent obsession is Miles Whittaker. His work as Miles is endlessly elegant, and I love his music as Demdike Stare with Sean Canty. 
There’s also an extra-musical dimension to your work too that I imagine relates to your film producer aesthetics.
I’m often inspired to make something by walking around and listening to sounds from construction sites and all the cool machines in the world. I get very excited about taking something mundane out of its environment and making it the star of the show. I love to celebrate the underdog, for sure – that’s where the field recording and phonography side of things comes in.
Outside music, I’m mostly influenced by people and living things. Human strength, kindness and hard work. Stand-up comedians. People who are enraged by injustice and say the wrong things at the right time. People who seek truth over ego, consistency and sense. Children, particularly around the age of five years. They seem to really know what’s up. Human compassion and ferocious love. My friends, who I never see because we’re all off somewhere working like maniacs. And of course, Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog. - Interview by Maya Kalev

Hi, my name’s Katie Gately and I created the second remix on Schemawound’s “Body Movements" titled Hymncycle. Schemawound approached me on Soundcloud to do this remix via the Disquiet Junto group. I discovered the group recently after Marc Weidenbaum found my music online and reviewed a track on Until then, my music had been heard by zero people.
This is my first remix. I had to google “remix” actually, it’s that bad. My first step was to pull all of the tracks into Ableton Live and listen to them while doing nothing else. I did this twice but was quickly overwhelmed by all the possible directions I could go. So I just erased everything besides the first and last two seconds of each track and used the samples to build the base loop you hear throughout. Once I had this in place, I took a look at the song titles and just started singing them out loud. To me, this worked. And I felt like a cute, smart-ass while doing it which made the process even more fun.
The content and structure of this track were construed in about 4 hours. I remember very little about those 4 hours because I tend to work fast out of fear: I am trying to out-run my conscious brain (where self-doubt and the inner critic conspire to obliterate my every move.) So I made it, went to sleep, listened again and thought: ok…I’m sending this to Jonathan now. Otherwise I’ll realize how grandiose it is and erase it. I came back a few weeks later to address the nightmare that was the mix: 40 tracks of voice when you only have headphones and do not legit-know what you’re doing. That part probably took closer to 400 hours. Lemur-pace, hyper-conscious mixing: I did my best.
Overall, I want the track to be an ASL interpreter and a chest-opener; to bring a human voice to something written in code. I actually program every day but it’s also really fun to take something logical and light up the blow-torch.
I’d really like to thank Jonathan for giving me the opportunity to create something I am proud of and would never have made without his beautiful material. The process felt like a growth spurt as I only started making music this summer and have quite a ways to go before I can take over the world and remix Justin Timberlake for a lot of money that will buy me a house and 5-6 boats. I’d also like to state how in-awe I am of the whole record. The mixes are gorgeous and the content is badass. I’ve listened to it maybe 20 times and not just to navel-gaze at my own track. Although I did do that twice and once in the rain even.
If you are interested in anything I do, I have music here: I would also really enjoy collaborations in the future after I finish my thesis in school this Spring…if I finish? Please email me about any thing you’re up to!
Katie Gately
Los Angeles, CA
What day is it?

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