The ruins of fractured accordions are reanimated with hybrid mechanical-digital constructions, to sing the imagined love ballads of a wounded forest. Canilla’s latest creation deserves a full listen – so let’s premiere it here together, right now.
ʻyou always wanted more in life, but now you donʼt have the appetiteʼ – it’s an opus of custom instruments and code. And for this high-concept construction, the music is visceral and earthy, every bit the voice of a lovesick forest. That was the premise behind an installation that helped spawn the album – the bellows of cannibalized accordions forming a mechanical, beating heart. Here, it grows into a full narrative, dark and organic and deeply emotional and raw.
Full-length album stream – plays end to end (then go grab the Bandcamp preorder below, if you’re into it):
It feels like a natural-mechanical hybrid, pulsing techno repetition of club music pulling against the fleshy internal bits. The live-coded elements produce elegant rhythms, but all those samples make them sound anything but computer-clean.
The deconstructed accordion digital-mechanical invention is featured in samples on “‘the extinction’s voluptuous odor,” the opening cut. The titular ‘you always wanted more…’ is described as “love ballad melancholia and power play accompanied by a synthetic sounding accordion.”
‘life without the human look’ is “a drugging sound that invites you in to the room of a memorial tribute to forests threatened with extinction.” I’m not totally sure what “a drugging sound” is, but I’m onboard.
Canilla is Norwegian-born sound artist and instrument builder Camilla Vatne Barratt-Due, now based in Berlin. She’s the kind of person who is always collaborating, always mixing media. And the same is true of this project. She turned to Ådne Meisfjord, who produced and mixed this album. (Ådne you’ll also find going back-to-back in the DJ set below from HÖR.) For the installation at Akademie der Künste, she worked with coder Fredrik Olofsson, and incorporated designs by hardware scanner maker Jo Grys. (Check details of that program of sound installations, from the excellent Kontakte Festival of sound and electroacoustic art – just the sort of thing we want to be back to!)
But that’s just to say that Canilla’s own imagination and intellect are expansive enough to play well with others. She has amassed a sprawling collection of accordions and accordion pieces. On this album, she tells us she’s making heavy use of SuperCollider and TidalCycles for live coding. (She’s also collaborated with live coders like Alexandra Cardenas).
Canilla’s own vocals are wonderfully weirdly intertwined with the machine, too, in a kind of reverb-wet droning punk serenade. Those harmonizers make the vocal cords free reed-like, in its post-human oddness. It’s strung together for perfect end-to-end listening but still sounds raw and free enough that you might also have wandered into a basement somewhere.
You get more delicious strangeness and mystical wanderings into the wilderness in their HÖR set. Take a trip without a compass:
Ådne also goes by the alias Tropic Contact High. This set was part of a HÖR takeover by the Lecken queer collective / platform – or self-described “queer-feminist engine for sonic, somatic and collective transformation unfolding once per trimester in Berlin.” See lecken.berlin.
The album is out now as Canilla’s debut, on Street Pulse records run by Kari from Ultraflex. (Wait – who? Why, that’s Kari Jahnsen (a.k.a. Farao) as the Icelandic-Norwegian duo Ultraflex – and speaking of collaborations, they “who work together like spandex and leg-warmers.” I can’t come up with a line that good; I just babble on semi-coherently – you need to read the Reykjavik Grapevine for that verbiage!)
You’ve read this far, and hopefully paid up on Bandcamp for the download. So after this serious trip into the woods, I absolutely say you’ve earned a pudding/dessert in the form of an Ultraflex video (“a tribute to Cher and Janet Jackson”):