Fresh Stream

Isolde Touch — Secretary of Sensation


Asha Sheshadri, the person behind the Isolde Touch moniker, has worked out of many locales in these United States. From years spent as a student in Boston and Philadelphia, to shorter artist’s residences in Vermont and Wisconsin (where much of Secretary of Sensation ultimately materialized).

However, the place that influenced its creation the most may have been her childhood bedroom in San Diego, California. It was there that most of this seven-song suite and its accompanying visuals were first conceived, often very late at night, from a mind that, at the time, was deeply attuned to “dystopian poetics; the possibility of a soundtrack with which to navigate the uncanny valley” as well as “photography, computer code, code-switching, glossolalia, office space, receipts, eXistenZ, e-mail, Muzak, instructional manuals, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough, virtual eavesdropping, equal parts authorship and animation, being sometimes nocturnal”.

The products of these late night obsessions may seem detached on first listen, but betrays a deeper intimacy upon further inspection. The text has a dreamlike logic unto itself, befitting the heavily atmospheric electronics which accompany it.

If I were to compare it to any other contemporary record, it would be fellow Californian Holly Herndon’s Platform, which was my favorite experimental electronic record of 2015. Aside from the similarly cool-but-intimate vocal approach, in which the sound and musicality of the text seems perhaps more important than its meaning, both records also use a combination of concrete and heavily treated/synthetic sounds in a manner which forces the listener to reconcile and rethink the constructs of virtual and tactile, automated and emotional.

Secretary of Sensation is the most complete, self-assured Isolde Touch release to date and a bold statement of purpose moving forward. I recommend it highly.

Secretary of Sensation is available on CD from Belgian label Entr’acte Records, in a limited edition of 200 copies.

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