I’ve been a fan of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s music since first hearing ‘EARS’ last year, her daringly bright and lush exploration of the Buchla 100 series modular synthesizer. This year’s follow-up album, ‘The Kid’, needed a bit more time to grow on me but its colourful innocence and washes of breathy melody have since firmly brought me round.
I was curious to see how Smith would realise this complex album live. Live electronics sets can often feel disappointing to me; the performer remains distant, communication with the crowd sometimes almost seems unwanted. But Smith’s set yesterday evening at Funkhaus Berlin enticed and intrigued.
Silhouetted against the backdrop of a dizzying, skittish video projection, Smith stood side-on, darting rhythmically around her setup, the Buchla Music Easel at its centre. Album opener ‘An Intention’ had an impressive grandeur to it, a slow unfurling to the whole performance. The more upbeat songs ‘A Kid’ and ‘To Follow & Lead’ buzzed and churned with a fresh energy. But the instrumental track ‘Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am’ was where Smith really demonstrated the ethereal beauty of her work. The humming layers were delicately controlled, rising gradually to an ecstatic chorus of tripping rainforest bird samples. Throughout the performance, the video projections made for an intense accompaniment, taking us on a journey from what seemed like the insides of a bubbly dream pop washing machine through to a kaleidoscopic night sky.
As engaging as it was, I would have liked more re-invention around the album material. While it’s certainly a legitimate approach to perform straight through an album, a bit more deviation from the ‘script’ could have unearthed yet more sides to this playful, creative record.