Review: Kay Hill – Cold Title

Kay Hill - Cold TitleIt’s makes some sort of paradoxical sense that Cold Title should be either a CD or a set of digital files, carrying its contents within the spotless, symmetrical vessels of binary clusters. Because while the release amplifies the sounds of friction and accident – the skidded landing of a record player needle over a micro-bump that was never meant to be, or the hiccup of dust clinging to magnetic tape – it also magnifies the pristine execution of digital media, which sits like a flawless whiteboard behind a process whose mucus and trembling fingers flecks its subject with little pops and spots of black, or little dents of heavy handling. I am required to recalibrate my listening apparatus, unscrewing the habitual expectation that a vinyl hiss is a beckoning for activity, and reinstating the curiosity that hears the crackling fires of being within the presupposition of vacancy.

I feel like I’m lifting up autumn leaves to see the ants and lice scuttling beneath. I crawl into the gap between the gentle hail of static and those dry pops of intrusion, feeling the texture and its movements like a form of brail, dancing into a melody that starts to sidle out of the radiator drones and scuffed microphone membrane. Sometimes I’m reminded of whirring machinery – those sounds of activated electronic circuits and fans, existing as the subconscious by-product of artificial life support – and at others I imagine the sounds of the organic world, like pebbles skidding and knocking into a crusted, dry summer hillside. Listening like this feels crucial and healthy. As though in the midst of meditation, I transit into an alternate perceptual state, now able to see the intention and song within sound often dismissed as unwanted excess.