Instability, incompleteness, a certain kind of relativity. These are the sources of Laughing Ears’ Metamorphosis, which avoids totalizing effects and holistic conceptions of style in order to present listeners with an ever-shifting music that sounds like dance but is more akin to walking the streets of a city. For instance, the rhythms come mostly from footwork, but the beats are not the stars of this particular show, their lessened prominence a function of the transformative dispersal of the album’s elements. Instead of kicking our bodies into ecstatic movement, the beats create the steadiness of meditation, a contemplative dynamic in which no sound is isolated, in which the artist prods our attention towards spanning, always insufficiently, all the jumps and cuts that articulate the music’s flow.
Laughing Ears’ interest in the nature of change is oriented by the idea that individuals are unstable, and that contact with others detonates reactive processes of differentiation. Applied to music, this means parting from a radical point of view, in the sense that no sound or note is inherently more or less valuable than others; the artist, ever from the first track, thus merges classical instrumentation and ambient droning with the complexity of a beatless footwork rhythm, finding in the relationships between each section a strong, if ephemeral, coherence. This path does not lead to freeform improvisation, however, but controlled compositions in which the music’s flow is not the product of an intuitive expression but of a more rationalized, methodic approach. What it allows is a development uninterested in ideas of progress or modernist pursuits of the ever-new, allowing repetition and return to drive the music forward, every familiar array of sounds slightly different the second, the third, the fourth time around.
All of the track names deal with interactions and states of matter, but from the most active (“Resistance”) to the most passive (“Inertia”), the common thread is the apparent malleability and freedom that each sound is allowed within each composition. In general, Laughing Ears works with layers, but where manyelectronic producers conceive of them as predetermined blocks that help affirm the main melody or beat, she allows layers to dissolve and reconfigure, letting ambient flows become the main focus of a track, for instance, only to draw away into the background once again within the span of a minute. The particularities of each layer are never fixed, and they follow the rest of the compositions in providing musical sets that continually redraw their roles. This is why it’s easier to listen to Metamorphosis as a city-walk than a dance EP, in the sense that the noises produced by the motors of cars never stay the same, even if they have everything in common, the voices of people around you constantly shift, the noises coming from buildings and distant happenings melting away only to be recreated in new, slightly changed settings. Even if short, this album is quite dense, and it will take repeated listens to figure out the vast network of relationships the artist has created here. (David Murrieta Flores)