Kara-Lis Coverdale – Grafts (Boomkat Editions, 2017)


Organic material is relatively undiscerning: transferring skin or muscle from one part of the body to another is a well defined process with frequent success; even foreign tissue can be integrated into our body with surprisingly minimal effort. Indeed, the process of grafting plant material from two distinct specimens together has been a common gardening tool for hundreds of years, even going so far as to create new plants capable of bearing fruit from a variety of different species simultaneously.

Grafts¬†falls into three movements, each one a step in the journey towards integration and assimilation, the absorption of something new into the very essence of one’s being. The first, “2c”, is an almost microtonal stream of sound, resistant and almost harsh piano cyclings plodding to an off-kilter rhythm as the organ hums like a hanging shadow, a lightly willing pressure to enable change. The climbing, harp-like tones and syncopating electronic textures that tumble freely into the mix are careful not to overwhelm proceedings, dribbling in on silvery flurries of excitation. Rocking, repetitive structures create a new feeling of insistence, a vaguely uncomfortable atmosphere as the wound begins to seal and threads of connectivity begin to emerge of their own volition, life’s seeking tendrils non-discriminatory in their outreach.

It slowly begins to thin out, the anxiety of failure and the tentative possibility of rejection now overcome as it descends into the glimmering kaleidoscope of second movement “Flutter”. The harp skitters and xylophonic tinklings shine with refractive brilliance, their very essence fresh and bright and blooming, helping to quash the submerged piano windings that turn lamentably below the myriad tones. It feels like energy, like the complicated beauty of a canopy¬†dancing in a breeze, or the vast networks of xylem within them delivering precious water and sugar in microscopic elegance, fed by new networks formed in the cleft of a recent wound.

It descends quietly, imperceptibly, into quiescence with final movement “Moments In Love”; it’s not a collapse, it’s just a drift from strength. The sudden surge of new found life and activity at the point of contact begins to fade into established fact. The cut is sealed over now, the blistered drone echo of its roiling scintillations deconstructed into a thoughtfully muted affair of humming organ drone and unwinding percussive tappings. Its course is now the course of the whole, its slew into calm and straightforward repetitious arpeggios a descent into inertia and thoughtful acceptance of such. Consolidation is complete and both bodies are bound irrevocably together, fused into one co-dependent, changed entity: the new whole is greater than the sum of its parts.