Madalyn Merkey’s music is a beautiful combination of the organic and the electronic. Listening to scent brings to mind some earlier electronic experiments. There’s an obvious grit to the album, shown in the warmth of the sound. Digital is ignored to a large degree. Calling it a personal album would be accurate as Merkey uses her own voice as source material in the compositions. She’s not the only one to do such a thing this year; Holly Herndon on movement used her voice too as source material. Whereas Holly’s work can be rather jarring and active, Merkey’s music exists in a dream-like state completely sedated.
‘Neptune’ is intensely focused on its aquatic-like sounds that ping through a strange atmosphere. Merkey keeps the humanity deeply in check with a sweet melody that snakes through 9 minutes of exploration. Tender and deeply moving it feels completely joyous in nature. With such a gentle spirit it feels like listening to a song growing up. ‘Siren’ directly uses her voice giving the song a sense of weird funkiness. Only a few times can her words be deciphered from the many effects. This may be one of the highlights of the entire album. Her filters manage to accurately convey the human behind all of this sound. Rhythms are beat-less yet there through her own pacing on songs like ‘Nexus’ and the enormous ‘Mend’. In fact the closer ‘Mulch’ is a strange dance track that outdoes the weirdest ideas of Matmos while remaining so delightfully simple.
Merkey is the Wizard of Oz of her environment making the sound bigger more powerful and lovelier than is humanly possible. Her work combines the best of the experimental with the emotional.