Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big in 2k10: Sultan

RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Codeine, Grouper, Ducktails, Nite Jewel, Zola Jesus

mp3: Sultan - Commanded [removed]
mp3: Sultan - Picture
mp3: Sultan - There Goes My Girl

Sultan is the experimental project of Brookyln songstress Kayla Cohen, who fuses stark, airy vocals with droney guitars — her aesthetic is reminiscent of Grouper covering MBV. Playing with loops and reverb, Kayla sculpts sublime soundscapes that are at once ambient, noisy, and pristine, with Codeine, MBV, JAMC and Spiritualized as smart influences.

On her Spring 2010 CDR, openers “Night Loop” and “Small Talk” pair muted, acoustic guitars with high-floating vocals — indecipherable but enchanting whispers that drift over her repetitive guitar progressions. By track three, “Return” hits the CD’s first long-piece — reverby drones and loops build up and down to a hyper-hypnotic place where the stars align and its all mystical and Goth.

That is the CDR cover above — a skyline or graveyard.

“Commanded” stands out as the first track on the CDR with drums, unsurprisingly giving the strongest nod to her influences. Another highlight, the vox-driven “Picture,” showcases her voice breaking out of its super-subtle shell and building to a widening, choir-like hymn. Closers “There Goes My Girl” and “Venture” are some of the CDR’s longest experiments, most closely recalling other contemporary underwater ambience.

Something about listening to sunny, upbeat pop songs during the summertime seems forced to me. Sometimes I’d rather chill out with this and get kinda dark. Though I first got a hold of this CD in April, it’s unsurprisingly been a good soundtrack to my summer studies, which have included John Cage and Edgar Allen Poe.

Sultan's track "There Goes My Girl" appears on the recent Blackburn Recordings compilation Various Deficiencies Vol. 1, alongside City Center, Big Troubles and more. Her most recent self-released tape, The Moonrecently/appropriately spun on Bobka’s Underwater Takeovah — is out now. Sultan's first 7” is out on Blackburn this fall.

(For our “Big in 2k10 series, we previously wrote on Twin Sister and Blackburn Recordings ... both of whom are doin pretty okay.)

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