Corinthian, Dedekind Cut, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith @ Studio Bell Performance Hall 6/22/2017 #SledIsland2017

Corinthian, Dedekind Cut, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, three electronic experimentalists, each occupying exceptionally niche realms of electronic production and performance, graced the chambers of Calgary’s Studio Bell performance hall Thursday June 22nd as part of Calgary’s Sled Island Festival.

A Calgary local regularly appearing on the bills of dance club nights, Corinthian is also behind the label Modern Math, and commenced the evening with a set of pure, unadulterated techno.  Corinthian’s beats were accompanied by a dissonant flurry of sweeping phrases from the baby grand (performed live) which added a kind of ominous chic-ness and perhaps minimized the relentlessness of the drums a tad.  As well, Corinthian’s on-stage metronome kinesthetics lent him the look of a mad scientist cooking up something very wicked.  He is a fidgety dude indeed.

Dedekind Cut to follow was a total change of pace and mood entirely.  One of guest curator Flying Lotus’ picks for Sled Island Festival, this producer’s array of strange samplings stacked over gritty, beat-less dissonance took us on a very abstract journey, at times somewhat musical-ish but mostly not at all.  Meshing together one anomalous layer after another, from fragmented echoes of some decaying industrial scene, to Tuvan throat-singing overtones, no matter what the chosen sample, an intense bleakness seemed to erupt from everything Dedekind Cut threw out.  From his sets many twists and turns, I get the feeling he is an artist capable of embodying many chameleon shapes and forms in his music, and I wish I could have seen his other Sled sets to see if and how they differed.

Next, Katelyn Aurelia Smith seemed to vaporize onto the stage from thin air.  Famed for her exquisite fluidity on the Buchla 100 synth, Aurelia-Smith dived full-throttle into a rendition of her haunting 2016 album EARS.  Watching her connect to her machine is a most organic and absorbing experience, as her feathery fingertips seem to just fly across her instrument.  An airy, lilting voice, looped over itself and eventually dissolving into a sea of harmonics, Aurelia-Smith channels otherworldly narratives of something both playful and wise, despite her lyrics being at most times undecipherable.  Her songs seem to evoke all sorts of deep sea-diving, wet and wondrous ocean imagery, and fittingly were accompanied by a series of morphing geometric images of those cellular worlds one might see under a biology microscope.  Originally from Orcas Island, Washington, a place with a raw natural beauty guaranteed to feed anyone’s creative muse, Katelyn is currently residing in Calgary as the National Music Center’s Artist in Residence.  The NWC is Calgary’s brand new world-class venue for the preservation and pioneering of all things musical, and in its first year of infancy has already made a name for itself with its clear emphasis on new avenues of electronic innovation.