Today’s musical explorations turn to the sounds of Oakland-based electronic artist MADALYN MERKEY, who first appeared in 2012 with her debut LP SCENT. While her newest LP, VALLEY GIRL, is currently on pre-order from NEW IMAGES LIMITED, a sprawling and sparkly 9-minute long teaser track “Archipelago” is streaming both on her Soundcloud and on one of the Wire’s recent playlists.
The attention is deserved for the artist, who seems to be quite at home creating a track that feels alien and free-roaming, yet stylish and warm. “Valley Girl was inspired by the agriculture and landscapes of Oakland, California and its horizon of rolling hills,” says Merkey on her “artist’s statement” for the record (a hifalutin concept, but it works here). “The peaks and valleys of the album’s landscape are made of fifteen computer generated tones that cycle through melodies driven by ambisonic surround-sound locations to define space.”
Ambisonic surround-sound locations? One can only imagine what that means without at least a napkin drawing, but it definitely works whatever she’s doing. They key with an album title like VALLEY GIRL might just be the notion of space. There is space in valleys. “Archipelago’s” gently buzzing (yet barely-tonal) waves flit from ear to ear as dazzling melodic fluttering fireflies dance in the thick blackness. Taking her time while managing to keep a natural pace within the composition, Merkey then inverts the mood by dipping the track in what sounds like a magical yet ominous time-slowing goo begetting faint patches of ultra-processed vocals barely distinguishable from her pads of electronic sounds.
“Archipelago’s” keen inner-weaving of sounds/tones maintains a distinctly relaxing vibe that possesses a magic that borders on paranoia. Fireflies turn to locusts and then lunar moths. Sometimes the space lets you see in the dark.