Natalie Beridze - Of Which One Knows
A gossamer collection of tranquillized and dissociated material from Georgian artist Natalie Beridze (fka TBA), curling her distinctive FX-fukt vocals like incense smoke around faded pads and processed field recordings. RIYL Tujiko Noriko, Hiroshi Yoshimura.Sometimes it’s the tracks that don’t end up on “major” releases that end up floating to the surface. That’s definitely the case with “Of Which One Knows”, a set of demos recorded by Beridze between 2007 and 2021. She’s put out plenty of music in that time period, including three startling full-lengths on Monika Enterprise, but these pieces here occupy a different creative space, forgoing the itchy industrial atmospheres of last year’s “Mapping Debris” and the galvanized dream pop of its predecessor in favor of dialed-down soundscapes and loose-limbed vocal experiments. Heady and deeply personal, these tracks poke into Beridze’s gooey core, inspired by memories of rummaging thru her dad’s studio: the smell of books and glue, the feeling of an old armchair, the outline of a flickering desk lamp.Percussion is minimal throughout - a beat helps introduce opening track ‘Ash Wednesday’, but it’s simply a muffled thump that helps accent Beridze’s harmonically complex vocal. Words can just about be extracted from the verses, but syllables are extended and elongated, melodies are bent into disquieting shapes, and echoes are molded into reverberating, neuron-teasing loops. None of this material is experimental for the sake of being weird, Beridze manages to shape a mood that’s coherent and challenging, but never walled off. On ‘Drift’, cinematic synths and strings heave beneath swirling vocal chopsthat never descend into darkness or cliche. Beridze instead uses her processing skills and compositional expertise to inspire mystery and wonder.The most obvious comparison - on tracks like ‘Door Part II’ or muted piano-led closer ‘Sadness’ - might actually be to Scandinavian jazz-electronic sounds, the sort of crossover experiments that have emerged from labels like Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon over the years. Beridze treats her instruments and compositions with care, but her music’s never precious, it’s rigorous and poetic, and endearingly reflective.
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