foxy digitalis : reviews

Caldera Lakes sound can roughly be described as an unlikely combination of two very different elements. One half of their aesthetic is rooted in airy, ethereal sounds not unlike Grouper. This is tempered by the darker half, as it were, consisting of harsh static-heavy blasts (think Merzbow) and electronic pings, pops, and clicks. Mind you, both halves share nearly equal space within each of the four lengthy tracks on this CD-R, with one or the other moving to the forefront. The group consists of Eva Aguila (Gang Wizard, Kevin Shields, and Winners) and Brittany Gould (Married in Berdichev!). Like two sides of a coin they combine, with Brittany bringing the hazy folk elements while Eva supplies the noise assault. As odd a pairing as this may seem, Caldera Lakes pulls it off fantastically.

Opening the album is the song “Snowstorm.” There is a repeating, lightly sung, and almost choral background to the piece which is interrupted by short, rhythmic stabs of electronic static. As the song winds to the end, the static rises to become more forceful and pervasive, nearly covering the more delicate half of the piece, but never doing so entirely. Second is “Shotgun #2,” which sets deep bass drones and electronic scratches against sing-song, nearly jazz-like vocals. Later, what sounds like plucked, high-pitched guitar notes join the mix as electronic pulses and screeches take a more prominent place until the track rises to a close drenched in cacophonous noise. Next comes “Tornado.” It’s mechanical rhythmic clatter lays a foundation for layers of beautiful, looped vocal trills and a new round of electronic assault. At a few points, the wall of noise drops out for a nearly unadorned peek at the vocals, before both elements blast forth again. “We Never Talked About It,” the closer, starts right off with sheet of static-laced noise before giving way to more delicate vocals. Singing and extreme sounds vie for space until the songs closes on a repeated vocal trill.

The more I listened to it, the more I found myself liking this. This album is all about juxtapositions, but after a while it’s hard to imagine that one half of each extreme could exist without the other. Eva and Brittany make these contrasts work together. Really, the only drawback is that on the one hand, I really wanted to hunker down with my headphones for the quiet parts, but sometimes the electronics sent me scrambling for the volume switch to preserve what is left of my hearing. Still, to the credit of the band, I never wanted to stop listening, so Caldera Lakes is clearly doing something very right. Trust me, this is definitely worth hearing. 9/10 — Matt Blackall (3 March, 2009)