Soulful synthesized sounds in Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s album ‘EARS’

There’s a moment about 10 minutes into “EARS,” the latest album from Berklee-trained West Coast synthesist and composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, when all the lines become a blur: The line between organic and electronic, solo and group performance, corporeal and ethereal, all are washed out by waves of lush, resonant wind tones. It is a subtle moment, one that redirects the harmonic narrative of the song “Envelop” into a surprising new trajectory. “EARS” is full of such moments, humanizing the oscillations of her modular synthesizer. The album’s spiritual, meditative leitmotifs conjure Pharoah Sanders, while its hooks echo Enya, creating paleo-future soundscapes that reward intense listener engagement. There is a funk and fluidity to the way each tune evolves, a soulfulness to the shape of the sound waves that separates Smith from much other contemporary electronic music. Smith creates wide-eyed compositions with textures that cascade over one another, capturing the vast celestial wonder of synthesized sound. SEAN L. MALONEY

ESSENTIAL “Existence in the Unfurling”


Sean L. Maloney can be reached at