TALsounds – All The Way

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To be released on 5/26/15! C42 – Purple tape with black imprints. Pro-dubbed chrome + tape. 2-sided 3-panel J-card with artwork from Marie Sommers.

Natalie Chami stands behind a station of synthesizers, oscillators, and pedals, clutching a microphone in one hand as she presses keys and spins knobs with the other. In her solo work under the TALsounds moniker, as a member of free music trio Good Willsmith, and as half of the ambient duo l’éternèbre, Chami has explored the infinite potential of improvised performance as a means of personal discovery and catharsis. The live-in-the-studio sessions captured on All The Way, her first full-length solo album with Hausu Mountain, unfold as slow-breathing meditations built from recurring synth figures and choral layers of self-harmonized vocalizations. A far cry from the trope of the disembodied specter masked behind a curtain of reverb, TALsounds makes her physical presence known as the real-time architect of her live-looped mosaics. Every gesture she makes funnels into her system of electronics and returns to occupy another stratum of her dense fields of sound. If Chami’s sessions, presented without overdubs, float somewhere between the realms of chance improvisation and precise narrative construction, then her mastery of her process and performance tactics all but erases that distinction.

All The Way documents an aural cycle of unraveling and reconstitution, animated by abstracted electronic and humanoid shapes that swell into view and melt back into nothingness. On tracks like “Only One,” Chami’s fine-grained synth tones whir and glisten as they stack onto each other in complicating harmonic configurations, evoking the recursive melodic mantras of forebears like Terry Riley and contemporaries like Pulse Emitter. During “Reach” and “She’d,” squalls of noise from oscillators and disfigured Korg MS20 synth patches scorch her stereo spreads into frayed atmospheres balanced on the edge of dementia. At the heart of each live arrangement, Chami’s voice reaches the listener in fragments of wordless vocalization, sighs, and occasional legible lyrics. Inspired in equal parts by her classical voice training and the work of modern luminaries like Sade, Aaliyah, and Björk, Chami’s transfixing vocal style elevates pieces like “Talk Alone” and “Mind” into blurred incarnations of pop or R&B glimpsed through the lens of improvised ambient performance. Taken as a whole, All The Way exemplifies TALsounds‘ personalized strain of tonal and emotional experimentation, focused on populating the silence of this present moment with distorted afterimages of the memories that preceded it.