The granular, watery artwork that adorns Klara Lewis’ latest release is just as irreducible and calculated as the music it accompanies. The single, twenty minute piece fragments a lone cello loop the way that outer threads on a quilt might inevitably fray and bunch until the patterning is overtaken by accented, individual strips. This procedural document of degradation focuses not on the elemental aspects of a sound, but the tangential, physical residue that it creates along the way.
The Swedish producer has spent the last half decade expanding on a surprisingly rhythmic body of work that is more forwardly aggressive than the (originally) poised melody of Ingrid. On Ett, glitchy, warbling oscillations confronted the listener like a sober, underwater Fire-Toolz, pleading for attention before dissolving. The suites on 2018’s Care with Simon Fisher Turner continued the same restlessness over tracks with much longer runtimes, climaxing at uncomfortable intervals and pushing texture over arrangement. That album’s cover art featured a magnified chunk of red hair, but brought to mind an intentionally forced perspective, unlike the inviting curiosity of the blue cellular structures of Ingrid.
This new release is not necessarily more thoughtful than Lewis’ previous output, but is almost monomaniacally purposive. A single-sided composition requires no intermission to flip vinyl. This warm invitation provides the chance to “get lost” in slow frequency changes that grow transcendent without complication. Although the final fourth of the piece turns threatening and grotesquely harsh in isolation, it becomes a breathtaking necessity once the comedown hits and the cello returns to its beginning state. The drone that overtakes the supposedly organic melodic phrase is not actually a severance from the origin but instead a piercing glimpse at the real material — a looking glass to the fibers making up the threads making up the whole.
Lewis enacts this disciplined exercise methodically enough to work, but loosely enough to enjoy. Ingrid is the rare piece of art that draws attention to itself just as it dissociates into its own shell. I’m still not quite sure what mood the piece is going for— as it alternates from awe-inspiring to genuinely terrifying in matters of seconds— but there’s a pervading feeling that mood becomes irrelevant in the face of such visceral work. Ingrid would lose the bulk of its transfixing aura if its EQ manipulations were more explicit, but it’s also hard to imagine a more grandiose composition. That’s where the album’s real greatness comes from. Spend too much time examining the particles of blue, and one’s eyes grow sore from the hyper-attentiveness, just as the breaker crashes overhead. (Josh Hughes)