The Bay Area Buchla manipulator makes us levitate at RBMA Festival NY’s all-day ambient show.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith came of age on Orcas Island in northwestern Washington State, and traces of its natural beauty and innate serenity are certainly detectable in her delicately crafted electronic music. Leaving Orcas Island to attend the esteemed Berklee College of Music, Smith studied composition and sound engineering. Initially focusing on her voice as her primary instrument, she later switched to classical guitar and piano, but it was only when a neighbor lent her a Buchla 100 modular synthesizer that Smith found her true calling. Although she had previously honed her chops in indie-folk outfit Ever Isles, her solo explorations charted a new path, bringing to mind the work of synth pioneers like Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Spiegel, Oskar Sala, and Terry Riley, while also folding in tender, playful rhythms and airy tendrils of pop. Following several self-released offerings, Smith linked up with Western Vinyl in 2015 for her first official album, Euclid, an LP whose first six tracks were initially structured using Euclidian geometry. That same year, she also contributed to a cassette release for the RVNG label, re-interpreting music from ’70s cosmic folk auteur Bobby Brown.