Âme, KÁRYYN – “THE WITNESS EP” (Innervisions) [September 3, 2021]

Carefully crafted out of wind chimes, modulated voices, and the quick turns of oscillator rate knobs, the beauty of the instrumentation might distract you just enough to not notice the subtle layers of calculated hypnosis.

A cacophony of windchimes, as though blown in perfect synchrony by that expectant and fresh late-night wind so often craved by overheated revelers, perturbs the surface of the synth sines harmonizing with handbells that establish the first notions of the melody. “Look again, seek deeper, reach further” a woman’s voice implores. It almost sounds like a guided meditation shot through with an edge of subliminal messaging, a new-age tape sold outside of a train station that’s actually some kind of CIA psyop. “Trust the unknown. Honor your darkness. Trust yourself.“ She says, faster now, a hardness or sarcasm latent in her voice as a demonic chorus sneaks behind her mantra at the end of certain verses. She is the eponymous witness, our own unreliable inner monologue. The track is further shot through with layers of glimpses of eerie sounds signaling the potentially disingenuous or at least backhanded nature of the lyrics. It’s a strong and startling opener.

The chimes gain a less spiritually sinister dimension on the next outing, “And End,” which features eight exploratory minutes of robotic samples, gentle harmony, and windy instrumentation. The almost cacophonic tonal drift in the main harmony serves to emphasize the clarity of the other elements; from the low mechanized croak of the vocal samples to the eddies of bells and curlicues of whistle sounds that come pouring in as it progresses.

On “What The Hell,” There is a darkly reverberating kick, the downpitched, somewhat evil voice that lurked in the background of the opener now in the lead. Sharp little plucks of what might be broken up, heavily processed voices made to sound like a synthesizer skitter in waves of unpredictable patterning that are sped up, detuned, oscillated and re-oscillated, catching different phases of their carrier waves so that in the end, the kick is the only still point. At least until the track is over halfway through, and a merciful baseline takes it home.

Closing on “Pink Elephant,” which plods with the deliberate lilt of a particularly motivated pachyderm, the whole experience feels like it might have taken place under the tutelage of a somewhat disoriented shaman. You can almost imagine the psychedelic pink elephants from Fantasia, tail to trunk, wandering off into the night.

-Winston Mann

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