September 20, 2016

LP: Katie Dey - Flood Network

Looking back on Katie Dey's Flood Network.

It’s uncommon for an album that blatantly rejects convention to be at once so disorienting and so vital. Flood Network, the newest release from Melbourne artist Katie Dey, leaks into this space as it is unassuming but corrosive. The album offers brief glimpses of reality before distortion sets in, gradually, and then all at once. Notions are rearranged and transposed to make way for something more beautiful, and we’re present for such a disaster. You’re waking up amnesic on a foreign train, but whatever’s outside the window is so gorgeous, you can’t reach the station yet. Not just yet. 

We’re guided along by intermediary instrumental tracks ("f1"-"f8") that don’t hold the hand so much as a gently tug on the sleeve. They’re the murky blue filter, the late evening smell, the innocent pain before the burn. Intimacy is abandoned in favor of understanding and suddenly we’re overflowing and ready for the next song. This may or may not be intentional on the part of Dey. Either way, it’s this quality that makes her newest release so addictive. "f3" in particular embodies this dreamlike emptiness, haunted with piano echoes that vaguely resemble the mid-century Ethio-pop of Mulatu Astatke or Mahmoud Ahmed. When Dey does veer away from the purely instrumental, we become privy to cycling mental bursts, such as on "Frailty" where breathy mutters of “Please don’t hurt me / Please / Please don’t hurt me” hesitantly pierce the surrounding atmosphere, buzzing and frantic. These calls never enter the realm of diary-like admissions. Rather, they mimic the anxious undertones that appear when we’re least aware of them – a subconscious, acidic medley. 

The LP’s standout track, "Fear O’ The Light," is gorgeous and glistening, like a grease fire on Christmas, or maybe a gun at the bottom of a pool. There’re no undeniable binaries here, no sense of the pleasing separated from the repulsive or hatred cowering from the inevitability of infatuation. It’s all here, crushed together, each piece indistinguishable from the other. Even Dey’s voice, alien and screeching, blends into the fuzzed-over piano chords like silk knotted together. Similar to the hallucinatory state of reality that Dey creates, there’s no telling where one ends and the other begins.


Listen to Katie Dey on bandcamp.

Lauren Ball, an investigative journalism student based in Chicago, IL. She's excited to help derail the patriarchy and overturn capitalistic power structures, but is trying not to get too dramatic here. Check out her work in American Songwriter Magazine, Highlight Magazine, Esoteric Zine, and her poetry in Sobotka Literary Magazine.