Aylu Walden

[Orange Milk; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: juke, campfire songs, concrète
Others: 食品まつり a.k.a foodman, AGF

“If someone does not keep pace with their companions, perhaps it is because they hear a different drummer. Let them step to the music which they hear, however measured or far away.”
– Henry David Thoreau

      1. Economy

In his post about “Corda 1,” the opening track of Aylu’s Walden, C Monster refers to her “poetic footwork.” The word “poetic” tricks and trips me. What can it mean for Walden? Does it poke at Henry David Thoreau’s canonical Walden? Yes. But it also gestures toward Aylu’s particular romance, emotiveness, play, and the ever-present potential in her sound for new directions and directives. The word can mean many more things; it does to me — its economy is its dream.

The poetic can be meticulous, like balancing a budget. It can be unstable and disastrous, like sticking to that budget. It can squirrel itself away, quietly toiling for a form of understanding. It can flow, abandoning itself with a shrug to uncertainty and sway.

The poetic reminds us that we must do what we can with what we have. This is not a concession, but a possibility.

      2. Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

Thoreau wrote Walden during his two-year, two-month, and two-day stay at the cabin he built near Walden Pond in the Massachusetts woods. Aylu composed Walden in the humbler time span of one week at her home in Buenos Aires. She spent this week mostly inside. Walden, she tells me, she likes how the word sounds. As if it could mean “inside walls” or “locked in between walls.” Which it can. Walled in. A poetic thought.

In isolation with nature, Thoreau found renewed power in self-reliance and independence. In isolation without nature, Aylu finds the space to confront the analog world with a renewed sensitivity to its textures. She built songs and soundscapes with a collection of noises that swerve from the strictly synthetic. Field recordings, acoustic guitar plucks, and other bits of intimate audio appear throughout its nine tracks. When interwoven with her distinct style of patchwork quilt-y MIDI, the recordings feels at once radical and cozy, curious and generous, and of a kind of intuitive necessity. Twixt a home, twixt a sound, twixt a style, they open doors, anew.

Did Thoreau sing to himself in his cold, old cabin? Did he decide that music was essential to life? Not really, but he did write of sounds.

      3. Sounds     

With pleasure, Thoreau muses on the beauty of ringing church bells, clattering carriages, lowing cows, hooting owls, and croaking frogs. While reading, I fantasize others, like sputtering fires, squeaking iron grates, and creaking trees.

Aylu’s song titles articulate similar town and country dynamics. From Portuguese, “Corda” translates as “rope” and “Cristal” as “crystal.” “Lignum” means “wood” in Latin, and “Papel” means “paper” in Spanish. English titles like “Industrial,” “Metal,” and “Nylon” are included, too. Sometimes, but not always, these titles correspond quite directly to vibes. “Industrial” is understandably dancey, whereas “Papel” is pleasantly, a bit unexpectedly, and inexplicably dub-steppy. Others, like “Nylon” and “Corda II” offer spreads of broad, sparse environments where each dense pocket of detail gathers and twists itself into an oasis.

Whether bubbling burbling, each track contains layers and layers of surfaces culled from life’s insides and outs.

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