Review: Katie Gately’s Exploration Of Beautifully Woven, Evocative Soundscapes In ‘Loom’

Katie Gately | Loom | Houndstooth

Release Date: 14 February, 2020

The creative process often draws from the the internal dialogues of artists; inner reflections of personal truths, observation and commentary on the world we inhabit – experiences throughout our lives that have been greatly impactful. For American musician, sound designer and producer Katie Gately, her artistic approach to her most recent release ‘Loom’ stems from the most difficult, and deepest grief that comes with loss; fashioning ‘Loom’ in lieu of her mother’s death, after scrapping an entirely different album she had been working on before hearing of her mother’s diagnosis – she reworked it from the ground up, drawing from her mothers favourite track ‘Bracer’ and releasing the album in dedication.

With ‘Loom’ presenting as Gately’s second album, a distinct focus is placed on intricate, carefully woven textures; thoughts, reflections, laments – loving and grieving through the very personal, utterly immersive storytelling in her sound. Gately’s dive into atmospheric sound design sculpts a lush, theatrical realm; a raw, cinematic traverse stemming from the heart.

An immense feeling of power broods within the midnight-soaked heart of ‘Waltz‘ – shrouded in the spectral cloak of nightfall, the sheer force of the consistent, 3/4 driving beat is enough to rattle one’s bones down to the marrow in a vigorous, hypnotising dance – haunting – gleaming with an aura that can only be described as exceptionally moving. Gately’s velveteen vocals shimmer as a moonlit hymn – the pure theatrics of the track crawl slowly and ominously as phantom fingers along the spine, distorted electronics circling in an omniscient, red-eyed lament: clutching layers of Gately’s voice – morose, unnatural oscillations amongst a heavily enchanting chorus. The soundscape sculpted by Gately is stunningly atmospheric and mesmerising, the brilliantly constructed walls of sound cradling a pensive narrative as it grows into a cinematic crescendo.

At just over ten minutes, ‘Bracer‘ can be likened to a track from a film score with it’s impeccable auditory progression: each individual texture cradles within its belly a story, a soundscape so intricately constructed each timbre embraces what preceded it, whirls effortlessly with its neighbour and segues smoothly into what follows. Opening with menacing swells and forceful, abrasive strikes, Gately’s ghostly vocals navigate a gloomy ambient atmosphere – the aura thick with a sinister presence: invisible, unpredictable, lurking within the shadows. Textural mountains gradually rise, looming with an unearthly omniscience as the track progresses – a slow, slow burner. A bewitching curiosity sits within the experimentation of timbre, a spellbinding traverse amongst a soundscape so inherently unique – the moody atmosphere is gripping, dramatic electronics glowing as a bittersweet rush of adrenaline hurtling throughout the body as if darting through an scarily unfamiliar, spectral realm.

The distant metallic strikes and nervous, phantom ambience opening ‘Tower‘ immediately establishes a growing sense of isolation; images spring to mind similar to that of the album artwork – a hollow, broken emptiness within a structure dilapidated and devoid of human touch: anxious, fluttering electronics haunt Gately’s vocals – the evocative swell of vigorous percussion pound as swollen heartbeats, vocal harmonies cry as celestial choirs: melancholy within the bodies of angels, lamenting amongst synthesiser sirens. The eerie segue into silence and gossamer ambience allows for moments of deeply personal introspection, her unbridled skill in sound design beaming vividly not only within ‘Tower‘, but evident throughout the entire album: a moving psychological dive into her inner world.

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Rating: 9 / 10

Feature Image: Katie Gately by Steve Gullick