ALBUM: Katie Gately – ‘Loom’

Both a piercing cry into the gulf of grief, and a collection of dark lullabies that provide momentary distraction from it; Katie Gately‘s second album Loom is a poignant ode to her late Mother, who she lost to cancer in 2018. Set for release via Houndstooth on 14th February, the electronic musician & producer has channelled her grief into eight new songs.

Gately created Loom in the aftermath of her Mother’s cancer diagnosis, thus giving the record it’s dark, melancholy, intensely sobering feel. She used real earthquake recordings in her productions; as well as samples of peacocks screaming, pill bottles shaking, and heavily processed audio from her parent’s wedding to reflect the void left by the loss.

Loom opens with the quiet, hypnotic ‘Ritual’. Layers of Gately’s beguiling vocals ring out over cautious electronics that gently rise and fall in time with her voice. The at times claustrophobic ‘Allay’ personifies the cancer that stole Gately’s Mother. Even without knowledge of this context, it’s still an unsettling listen, with its severe electronics and dense beats.

Inspired by Leonard Cohen – one of her Mother’s favourite artists – ‘Waltz’ is a haunting, powerful call to arms encouraging listeners to dance, even in the midst of overwhelming grief. Gately wrote it after listening to Cohen’s track ‘Take This Waltz’ on repeat for an entire day, resulting in five minutes of dark, energized sound. Following track ‘Bracer’ is a powerful, ten minute eerie epic. It’s also worth noting that it was Gately’s Mother’s favourite track on Loom. 

Along with ‘Waltz’, Gately describes these songs as being about the same thing: “They’re about being disoriented and wanting to check out with a substance. I used whisky.” Both tracks have a manic, kinetic quality; as if the whiskey that fuelled their formation is flowing through the veins of her listeners, encouraging them to perform a contorted dance to Gately’s soundscapes.

Much like opener ‘Ritual’, ‘Rite’ provides a few minutes of breathing space, before dense beats and a menacing blur of sounds on ‘Tower’ make the hairs on the back of the neck twitch. Here, Gately inhabits the medicine that confronts her Mother’s cancer. For the first four minutes, it’s abrasive and severe, but it switches for the final two; with Gately’s soothing vocals acting as a tonic to the toxicity.

The startling, cathartic sounds on penultimate track ‘Flow’ ring out for six powerful minutes. Written from the perspective of her Mother, this track is one of the strongest on the record. Final track ‘Rest’ is announced through Gately’s poignant vocals, closing an album that’s both shocking and soothing in equal measure.

Gately has said that the process of creating Loom is “blurry” to her now, perhaps repressing some of the darker, more desperate feelings that must have permeated it. Whilst her discomfort and grief are audible throughout the record, the fact she confronted her complex emotions proves she is both a genuinely talented musician, and an incredibly brave woman.

Pre-order Katie Gately’s new album Loom here.

Katie Gately UK Live Dates 2020
March 31 – Manchester – The White Hotel
April 1 – London – Cafe Oto (with support from Hinako Omori)

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: SHHE

Sparse, searching, and sincere; Scottish-Portuguese artist and producer Su Shaw – aka SHHE – creates captivating electronic sounds based around the concepts of identity, empathy, and intense personal change. She recently released her debut self-titled album via One Little Indian Records, and it’s an understated, yet dramatic gem that lingers in the memory long after the first listen.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Su to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her debut album at the end of this post.

1. Jenny Hval – ‘Conceptual Romance’
Jenny Hval is not just one thing, she is many things. If you are not already familiar with some of those things, take a five minute intermission and read her recent ‘Hi I’m Jenny Hval and you can ask me anything’ interview on Reddit. ‘Conceptual Romance’ from Blood Bitch was the first track I heard, but all of her projects are worthy of your eyes/ears/time. My girlfriend and I went to see her a few years ago, and it was one of my favourite gigs. Half-way through she admitted that most of the set had been improvised because the airline had lost their instruments the day before.

When I listened to ‘Lions’ for the first time [from her recent album The Practice Of Love] it made me want to cry and go for a very fast run. Those are strange things to feel simultaneously. She is open and honest and writes about the things that other people don’t write about, and I have a dream that one day we will be great friends.

2. Land of Talk – ‘Some Are Lakes’
I was 20 when I heard Land of Talk for the first time. I can’t tell you where or how I made the discovery, but I listened to this album [of the same name] on repeat that whole year. I was in a bunch of bands at school, I was always the only girl. At a school with more than 100 other people in my year, that always made me kind of sad. I didn’t pick up an electric guitar until I was 17, even then I never had confidence to play it on stage. I was the singer. Liz Powell did both. I wish we’d gone to school together.

3. Boards of Canada – ‘Music is Math’
‘Music is Math’ is taken from the Boards of Canada album, Geogaddi. It was released in 2002. I did not find Boards of Canada until they released Tomorrow’s Harvest in 2013. No one has found them since. In fact, no one knows much about them. It’s a useful reminder, at a time when everyone is obsessed with knowing everything, that the music is the only thing we need. If you’re not satisfied by that, there’s patterns and messages and codes that they’ve hidden throughout their albums to keep you busy. I like listening to Boards of Canada when I’m feeling confused and I need a break.

4. Jon Hopkins – ‘Luminous Beings’
The first time I saw Jon perform was in a village hall at a festival called Homegame in Fife. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt in a room packed full of people. There’s a great Song Exploder interview with Jon where he talks about some of the influences behind ‘Luminous Beings’ – meditation and altered states and psychedelics and ice baths. His Asleep Versions album is also a special record and has been the soundtrack to many late night/early morning drives.

5. Caterina Barbieri – ‘SOTRS’
Patterns of Consciousness is one of my favourite albums from the last few years. ‘SOTRS’ is perfect for riding a bike with no hands, if you’re able to do that somewhere safely.

Thank you to Su for sharing her favourites with us. Follow SHHE on Facebook for more updates.