Christiana Femano's music is that of tension and balance. Between fragile designs and ebbing entropy. Between the acoustic resonances of kalimba and voice, and the peculiar mechanical resonances of electronic manipulation. Between the murmuring wash of static, reverb, and fluttering circuitry that embrace clear, crystalline melodies without overwhelming them. Subdued and spectral, her music drifts among these tendrils of drone, noise, and amorphous pop without ever letting any of them take over. It was impressive heard live, and now equally impressive in her new album as Cache, Swole, available for free download.
Swole is a house of ghosts. Meaning lurks in the empty spaces, in how light falls on a window ledge, in the subtle motion of a curtain, in a swirl of stirred up dust. The melodies of the haunting, ambiguous “Traveling Broke and in Love” or creeping “Under Dance” seem to be as much about texture as about their actual notes, breathing life through minute timbral variations. Even closer “What there is that isn't bitter and twisted”, seemingly consisting entirely of a simple harmonica/ toy-piano (I think) interplay, reveals textural concerns through the rich sense of space and a distant rattling suggestive of the pedals of a pump organ, which may or may not be a part of operation of the actual instruments involved.
While the album is free for download, Femano's skills as a visual artist and the promise of a “hand-made stitched pop-up book” as album packaging suggest that purchasing a physical copy, at a show (Death by Audio, February 9) or by contacting Femano through the Cache myspace, would be very well worth it.