Eartheater – Metalepsis (2019 edition)

To be released on LP on 8/9/19. Her 2015 debut album available on vinyl for the first time. Features updated artwork and pressed on transparent neon green vinyl. Features artwork from Alex Drewchin, photography from Chris Carlone, Text from Markus Fiedler, and design from HausMo Max. This is the catalog page with album information and artwork. To view the store page, click here.

Since the release of her debut album Metalepsis in 2015, Alexandra Drewchin’s Eartheater project has evolved into new performance styles and cycled through a diverse menu of genres, while she introduced her music to scenes and new contexts all over the world over years of international touring. With Hausu Mountain’s reissue of Metalepsis, appearing on vinyl for the first time, we travel back five years to a period of her work where you would more likely find Drewchin’s three-octave voice swooping through gorgeous cascading melodies as she fingerpicks through ornate chord progressions on her acoustic guitar, rather than pouring out lacerating noise texture and technoid beat structures from a pair of CDJs. The idea that these two (of many) sides of her project are at odds with each other, however, is a total fallacy, as Eartheater’s holistic practice remains in a state of constant recombination and willful juxtaposition. Even when she operates in a more singer-songwriter idiom, fragments of detailed synth arrangement and sound collage swirl through the corners of her productions. The raw, human element of her voice and acoustic instruments like the harp or guitar ground the more recent overtly electronic-focused experiments (see: IRISIRI, PAN Records – 2018) in some semblance of intimacy far removed from any club locale. In truth, Drewchin knows when to jettison ideas or styles when they start to tire her, and has a discerning perspective when it comes to exactly what signifiers she wants to present in both live and recorded settings. Her recent sets have come to balance her heavier post-club material with a reincorporation of long passages of stripped down voice-and-guitar performance, featuring material from Metalepsis and its follow-up RIP Chrysalis, in addition to new material slated for future releases in this vein. With this in mind, a reconsideration of Metalepsis could not come at a better time. The new edition on transparent green vinyl comes repackaged with updated artwork, which includes a cover photo sourced from the first photoshoot that Drewchin directed, and text imagery designed by Markus S. Fiedler. Together with the album’s original cover, which represents some of Drewchin’s very first experiments with digital image editing, the redesign of Metalepsis embodies the first seeds of Drewchin’s ongoing, hands-on development of her visual aesthetic to complement her musical output.

Metalepsis operates on multiple levels of compositional density and direct engagement with the listener. Tracks like the majestic “Homonyms” and the stripped-down finale “Infinity” float the closest to legible structures and timbres in keeping with folk artists like Vashti Bunyan or Linda Perhacs. Like Perhacs or Joni Mitchell before her, Drewchin knows her way around the guitar fretboard and is not content to hammer out standard chord progressions, as her song structures latch into temporary cycles for a few stanzas before jetting off into one-off flights of harmony that stand behind her soaring vocal lines. For as much variation as her guitar, synth work, and detailed digital editing/collaging offer, the constant evolution of Eartheater’s vocal melodies remains at the core of her project. On “Homonyms,” she winds her way through a labyrinth of tumbling melodic figures that range from tongue-twisting, almost rapped mid-range cadences to bursts of color in the highest of falsettos. Along with these vocal styles, Drewchin tries on hard-effected belting closer to 90s alternative rock (“Youniverse”), layered wordless coos and chirping vocalizations (“Macro EV”), and pensive spoken-word whispers (“The Internet is Handmade”). Her lyrics toy with themes of humanity’s increasing integration with technology, with our tiny role and self-perception in a vast universe, with the joys and dissociations inherent to sex and subsistence, and with the boundaries between the imagined dreamworld and the (u)(dys)topia expanding before us.

For all of her mastery of voice and traditional instrumentation, Eartheater’s omnivorous, collage-like approach to production pushes Metalepsis beyond the limits of singer-songwriting and out into the deep end of modern electronic experimentation. Shorter sketches like “View Point Strata” and “Youniverse” stand as miniature flights through contrasting sound sources and broken anti-structures. The chirps of Drewchin’s pet birds join with peals of atonal violin, while a jovial verse by an anonymous Russian rapper arises out of a sea of garbled, heavily processed vocal fragments. Even the tracks that skirt closer to more conventional forms play host to detailed electronic backdrops of percolating percussion patterns, sliced and looped synth formants, and swathes of pure texture. The 10-minute epic “Orbit,” on which Hausu Mountain co-founder MrDougDoug processed and layered Drewchin’s input, stands as the deep black hole of Metalepsis, churning and bubbling at varying states of rhythmic activity as it slow-burns it way from a field of low end drones and thickly delayed chiming tones into a time-dilating wash of ambient drift and bursts of clangorous percussion.

The year 2015 saw the poster-children of freak folk and indie psych rock still occupying the mainstream, as banner acts like Animal Collective or Joanna Newsom had been canonized enough to take a step away from the spotlight, while acts like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra were releasing their biggest albums to date and headlining huge festivals. While Eartheater has been lumped into both of these trends and compared to these artists, she categorically rejects any descriptors like “psychedelic” or “freak” when it comes to her music. Any resemblance to bigger indie psych fare in no way corresponds to the direct influence of these scenes on her music, and is more of a symptom of the music world at large latching onto individual tropes they might deem as “trippy” (see: acoustic guitars planted against synthesizers, upper register vocal flights) and forging connections between far-flung projects. If elements of, for lack of a better word, “trippiness” come through in her music, this is simply a result of her multi-faceted personality and her natural approach to composition shining through in her arrangements. The idiosyncratic manifestation of her songs, in forms that time has proven to be unique and still wholly captivating, testifies to her vast talents as a songwriter, producer and lyricist. While some of Metalepsis slithers its way though towering synth workouts or passages of complex digital editing, some of its most affecting moments reach us as songs, pure and simple, as Drewchin communicates directly with indelible lyrical images and earworm melodies that can’t help but remain in our heads.

Eartheater has shared stages with acts that include Jenny Hval, Objekt, M.E.S.H., Amnesia Scanner, Actress, and Juliana Huxtable. In February 2017, Drewchin played the role of “The Child” in the acclaimed production of The Fool, an opera by Colin Self and Raúl de Nieves staged at The Kitchen in New York City. In June 2019, she embarks on Fracture Patterns, a nine date tour of the UK in collaboration with video artist duo Semiconductor. The Fracture Patterns performances represent an original commissioned work by the Outlands Network, and find Drewchin providing a live soundtrack and performance along with Semiconductor’s multi-channel video works.