July 2, 2015

LP: Katie Dey - asdfasdf

Lost in the tangles of Katie Dey's asdfasdf.

Rarely as a listener do I hear something so distinctly its own thing and comfortable with its variation as Katie Dey’s album asdfasdf. Not much is known about Melbourne-based Dey except that homegrown label Orchid Tapes released the album, which is believed to be her only record. asdfasdf is bound together by its glitch ethereality and little else. The album encompasses elements of freak folk, the avant-garde, Bjork, shoegaze, R&B, and bliss pop, creating an intensely structured, wonderful, mess.

However, there are moments when that mess is like a tangle of wires, leaving enough space for you to pull at the knots with your fingers. “Unkilleable,” is arguably the most familiar track on the record, due to its slightly saccharine tone and nondescript acoustic riffs. Yet it is distinct in its capacity to be at once airy as well as dense. She sings, “Suck the blood from my feet / you are my favorite leech.” The words, however vulnerable, are communicated through a cacophonous tunnel; an imposed barrier between creator and listener. This kind of transmutation is Dey’s specialty. On “h o e,” a gravely coder parses through wistful instrumentation befitting something like Woods, rendering it practically unrecognizable. A bass dribbles like a tap on "All on You," a traipsing, inquisitive ode to self-responsibility. The bass’s aquatic rhythm is no accident: asdfasdf is pulsatingly elemental, relying on a response more visceral than rational. Nearly a third of "y o y o" is solely made up of a synth and chime call and response, a sonic imagining of the toy’s motion. Where other music may leave listeners distracted by its lyrics, asdfasdf opts instead for a feeling that makes words look small.


Listen to Katie Dey on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.