The avant-psych multi-instrumentalist picks experimental music showcasing the power of the human voice, from Colin Self to Joan La Barbara.
When multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ka Baird cofounded the avant-psych band Spires That In the Sunset Rise in 2001, she was living in Chicago — after releasing several albums as part of the group, Ka Baird moved to New York City in 2014 to work on solo material. Her sound focuses on piano improvisations, extended vocal techniques, physical movement and electronic manipulations of the flute. Renaming herself as Ka Baird/Sapropelic Pycnic, a dual and evolving identity, she has released three albums so far. The most recent record, 2017’s Sapropelic Pycnic on Drag City, features extended flute, voice and live electronics, and blends themes of ancient music with textural rhythmic noise. For her episode of Headphone Highlights, the avant-garde artist presents a selection of tracks highlighting the “voice as the original instrument,” a phrase inspired by the title of one of Joan La Barbara’s albums.