Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

It’s a struggle to define the purpose of most music—the answer is perpetually changing, based on time, place, and innumerable other factors. But Los Angeles-based synthesist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith seems to have homed in on something specific on her new album, The Mosaic of Transformation (Ghostly). The joyous, drifting melody of “Remembering,” the album’s second track, can be heard as an elemental distillation of contemporary synthesis. “Be kind to one another,” Smith sings, a reminder for the aberrant lives we’re all leading now; her sparkling composition evokes colors and mimics flutes, creating a sense of calm that’s too often hard to come by. Purposely or not, her entire practice exudes something similar. Her 2018 record Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga (released as a digital-only affair in 2014) seems aimed at the spiritual, and The Mosaic of Transformation suggests something more physical by including photos of Smith in its packaging, contorting herself into various poses that explore movement and the limits of her body. (Maybe she means to hint at the patch-cord gymnastics necessary to operate modular synths, plugging in and withdrawing cables to funnel electricity and sound in perfect sync.) But not all of Smith’s music reaches for empyrean heights: “A Kid,” from 2017’s The Kid, moves into beat-music territory, and on Mosaic, she exhibits some singer-songwriter tendencies. Those elements are just passing glances, though, moments that display Smith’s versatility as she continues to explore the nexus of woolgathering, sound, and movement.   v