Shaula: Medusae
Rural Colours

So here I was thinking Japanese songstress Shaula's four-track EP for Rural Colours would be all about that mythological Gorgon creature whose gaze could turn whomever she looked upon to stone and whose hair is always shown as an unflattering tangle of snakes—until I reminded myself that the EP's title is Medusae, not Medusa. As it turns out, Medusae is, rather more prosaically, the Japanese translation for jellyfish whose nature it is to drift the ocean, a meaning that, in truth, more naturally accords with the soothing drift of the recording's fragile and pensive music.

Calling her a songstress doesn't get it quite right either, as Shaula's more of an electroacoustic ambient producer who transmutes processed materials and guitar harmonics into serene soundscapes—something that'll already be known to listeners familiar with her past releases on Under The Spire, Time Released Sound, and Somehow Recordings. The time-arresting opener “Planula” unfolds in a nine-minute haze of fluttering guitars and willowy atmospheres, whereas “Strobila” strips its graceful sound-world down to little more than delicate electric guitar shadings and keyboard accents. The celestial dimension of Shaula's music comes most explicitly to the fore during “Polyp” and “Ephyra.” Issued in a three-inch CD-R edition of 75 copies, the recording makes an inarguably powerful case for her music, presenting as it does twenty minutes of some of the loveliest dreamscaping one might hope to encounter.

April 2012