In this day and age, it’s hard to find original music, but there are still unopened tombs and places yet to be raided. Enter Alina Kalancea and her album The 5th Apple, a genuinely unique set which leans into the dark.
Kalancea mixes spoken word with subterranean bass frequencies and evolving, dark electronics. Deep insights and deeper introspections lay in and among her crawling sentences, and the music grows within the womb of its deep musings and philosophies. Building a nest.
The Romanian sound artist’s music stealthily enters the room, creeping around with borderline maliciousness as her spiky words nestle in the centre. When her voice drops out, the varying tones quickly invade, amassing as one as they take over, adding even more power to the words even in the absence of them. The music is a continuation of her philosophical discourse: in the same way that the use of punctuation and the flow of speech will bring out the music of diction and the rhythm of words, Kalancea’s music has an underlying rhythm which can be felt within its regular and frequent electronic blips and pregnant, drooping bass-quakes.
Insectile rhythms lead to a larger respiratory system, giving life to the record and providing a dialogue within its clicks and chirps. Kalancea’s scathing tone comes through every now and then, angry at something deep within the system. The electronics are sharp and quick-firing, rapid in their use of punctuation.
The 5th Apple has an insidious nature – taking a single bite will prove fatal.
‘If you are trying to get free, don’t move too much. You will end up like an insect in a toxic spider’s cobweb’
Chameleon tones morph, shimmering like a halogen, gleaming like steel, directly in front of the listener. It’s an ongoing transformation, and its sound becomes deeply hypnotic. The electronics help to form a meditative experience, although it won’t ever be used in relaxation. Sharing something with the practice of meditation, Kalancea’s words are a dark entwining.
The electronic chattering wraps itself around the listener in neon and often alien colours, and a subtle, cosmic-ambient background adds an eerie layer. Like the music of Steve Roach, the sound allows one to zone out, but the unfathomable wonder of its limitless environment can make mere humans tremble. The sound digests and reflects deeply upon the message, processing it with its intelligent scanners, and the stunning electronics provide a nice contrast to the deep listening of which spoken word demands.
The sounds are as sharp as a sword, expressing and articulating valid fears with a shared voice. The natural, lonesome sound of dripping water and the digital electronic patterns, which circle in a cycle of tension and anticipation, create an incredible experience. Unsettling strings help to form undercurrents of barely-withheld distress, growing like mould in the recesses of the mind.
The 5th Apple comes from a mental or spiritual abyss, a place submitting to the totality of a blackout. For while the spoken word illuminates the record, there’s no denying that the world it inhabits is a dark one, populated by a host of psychological creepy crawlies, modern-day warnings, and inner demons.
Although the sound brightens, there’s something disquieting about its glimmering light. Something untrustworthy within its spectral, obfuscating glare despite a beckoning finger. Kalancea is a tireless aural explorer, and her music is equally restless. Sound artists Alex Gámez, Julia Kent, and Raven Bush all collaborate on the album, helping to shape its snarling textures and wiry sounds. Like the looping underworld it finds itself in, the hives of noise, the flexible articulations, and the sonic whisperings demand multiple repetitions. (James Catchpole)