March 25, 2019 K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series (Album Review)
Recorded over a seven year period, Singer-Songwriter K Á R Y Y N’s debut album, The Quanta Series, is an avant-garde experience of thrumming sounds and poetic, deeply personal lyrics. You can hear the collection for yourself on Friday, March 29, 2019, thanks to Mute Records.
In November of 2011, Syrian-Armenian-American Composer and Vocalist K Á R Y Y N embarked on a trip from Brooklyn to upstate New York’s Cherry Valley. Struggling emotionally after visiting with two dying relatives in Aleppo, suffering under the weight of a string of family deaths, the musician felt understandably devastated and disillusioned. Living in isolation, she spent time with her art – drawing, reading, and recording music – and used her music to try to explore and purge her feelings of loss and sadness.
What followed was a seven year journey of self-exploration and discovery, along with healing through music. Examining her familial legacy along with themes of quantum physics, love, grief, growth and the impact humans have on one another, K Á R Y Y N has crafted an 11-song collection that defies sonic categorization and proves that she is a truly unique composer.
Though the songs, save for three new tracks, have already been released in pairs throughout the past year, The Quanta Series culls together K Á R Y Y N’s journey from recording in Los Angeles, Berlin, the UK, and Iceland (where she debuted an original Opera production), to those weeks in Cherry Valley, and finds inspiration in moments from her childhood and upbringing, as well as universal themes of love, loss and grief.
The Quanta Series begins with a stop and a start, moving into the lush melody of “Ever,” a prove into the complexities of love – whether unrequited or welcomed with open arms. Here, K Á R Y Y N’s songbird vocals are accompanied by delicately schizophrenic electronic reverb set to the pace of a racing heartbeat. The end result is part intelligent Art Pop, part trance-inducing trip, but entirely avant-garde in its approach to song making.
“How sensitive the reverb of hurt,” proclaims “Yajna.” If you’re not familiar with the word, well, you’re not alone, but it involves a ritual sacrifice. Here, that ritual is love and its effects on the heart, sacrificing the “I” for the “we.” Next, on “Purgatory,” K Á R Y Y N’s voice is accompanied by only the slightest synth sounds, creating a truly intimate moment. A song that swirls around the idea of finding the courage to free yourself from periods of anxiety and fear, the track dips deep into K Á R Y Y N’s past for its highly personal inspiration.
“Binary” plays with numbers and quantum mechanics to defy time and physical space, and create a love outside of definition, a love that transcends time. While its sonics often race like a sped up clock, they also pulse like a racing heart to add a frenetic energy to K Á R Y Y N’s always gentle vocals. Next, the haunting “Ambets Gorav” clocks in at just under six minutes and balances atop a whispery soft vocal in Armenian.
The bizarrely titled “Un-c2-See,” recorded in Iceland, is a lyrical play with words set to the sound of lightly echoing vocals that weave an almost folkloric trance (think Loreena McKennitt). This New Age-ness continues into the reflective “Mirror Me,” a glance at being trapped against a wall. A darkly cinematic Spoken Word, “Cytokinesis” sees K Á R Y Y N taking on the role of observational narrator, grieving an unlived life and all that has potential to be and has not yet been.
She returns to singing for the soaring “Aleppo,” where she muses on personal memories of the war-torn Syrian city, while “Today, I Read Your Life Story 11:11” begins almost like a funeral dirge and sees K Á R Y Y N exploring some of the lower reaches of her vocal range. Perhaps the most traditional track on the album’s second half, “Segment & The Line” sees a return to melody in the name of loss and taking a freeing breath. It is the perfect conclusion to a collection that delves deep, meanders through a million styles, and authors a truly haunting experience.
In the most easily understood term, K Á R Y Y N is experimental. Her music is often times dissonant with bizarre, Sci-Fi worthy sounds emanating behind her whispery soft, angelic vocals to create a filmic experience that is punctuated by her poetic lyrics. No two songs are alike, and the emphasis throughout The Quanta Series is more on creating inspired moments versus creating catchy hit singles.
So, while K Á R Y Y N goes down like a rich, sultry, full-bodied vino, her music is likely to polarize listeners as some will simply not know what to do with her varied, genre-bending approach — one that could conceivably be titled Electro Art Pop (think Björk meets Kerli). The bonus here is that she’s intelligent, she plays with sonic textures, and she leaves her lyrics open to much interpretation, creating an album that is more about losing yourself in its amorphous segments and lines and finding your own truth than distinguishing K Á R Y Y N’s intended course. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give K Á R Y Y N’s The Quanta Series 4.5 of 5 stars.