Isnaj Dui: Euplexia
Rural Colours

Following on the heels of the Hibernate recordings Abstracts on Solitude (2012) and After the Flood (2013), Katie English's latest Isnaj Dui release, Euplexia, distinguishes itself from other collections within the electroacoustic genre by merging the contemporary sounds of electronics with the timeless sonorities of concert and bass flutes. The latter, especially when presented by the classically trained flautist in a multi-layered form (as often occurs on the album), lends Euplexia its especially haunting character.

English, who eschews laptop processing in her work, favours a stripped-down approach in Euplexia's sumptuous tone paintings, with beat patterns, where they occur, formed from the sparsest of elements—a clicking pattern and strum here or a flickering noise and drum rhythm there. And though it is true that the arrangements are often purposefully modest in the number of sounds included, English has selected said sounds, with field recordings, coil pickups, dictaphones, and home-made dulcimers part of the electronics-woodwinds mix, with a discerning ear.

No better exemplar of the album's style can be found than “Rolling Globe,” whose skeletal waltz rhythms and warbling flute choir evoke the image of a mythological setting where Ancient Greek gods, perched on high, entrance unsuspecting mortals with their playing. It's hardly the only memorable piece on the forty-four-minute album, however, as it's matched by the arresting settings “Orthoclase” and “Crook-Kneed.”

With respect to mood, the tracks flirt with harmonic dissonance and are often dark and mysterious in tone, their hypnotic quality intensified by the languorous effect of the flute playing and the era-transcending nature of the percussive design. Aural evidence of her background studies in Balinese gamelan music surfaces a number of times on the album, perhaps during “Basement Floors” most of all.

On this memorable nine-track collection, English effects a striking rapprochement between the pristine perfection of contemporary electronic-generated sounds and the natural humanity of an instrument that relies on human breath for its sounds' existence. There's a maturity of conception and execution on display that identifies English as an artist and producer of considerable merit, someone hardly content to merely string myriad sounds together in the hope that they'll coalesce into something meaningful. Enhancing the musical content is the presentation itself, which sees the CD packaged within a simple sleeve whose images, created by English, were lino-printed using a letterpress method.

July 2014