Published May 21, 2020Chicago-based sound artist Natalie Chami is one-third of Good Willsmith, the house band of experimental electronic label Hausu Mountain. Her improvisations for electronics and voice truly shine when she is on her own, recording solo as TALsounds. It is in this solitary mode, unfettered, that she lets her emotions and subconscious urges drive her music in a more exploratory direction.
Acquiesce finds Chami crafting meditative works out of voice and synth improvisations. She weaves words, sibilations and resonances into melodies and harmonies, as if her voice is an instrument unto itself. These utterances serve as the breathy center around which synthesizer patterns swirl and play. The entire concoction is entrancing.
The beguiling nature of Chami's craft is brought into focus on "Opening," in which layers of synth slide across each other like wisps of cloud across the sky. But it's with "Soar," in which the artist's vocals are introduced, that Acquiesce truly connects. Entering softly, Chami's chanting becomes clearer and more powerful as the piece progresses, melding nicely with the soaring melodies that serve as complement.
"Conveyor" is a return to the unaccompanied synthesizer. Here, the melodies are bright and in focus, and the tone is cheerful. Chami's voice returns in a near-whisper on "No Rise," resting against an improvised organ line that weaves snake-like through the proceedings. "Else" enters with a chilling low-end throb that grows slowly over time. Washes of brighter tones and wordless vocalizations lighten the mood somewhat, but then a chorus enters the fray to really take the piece someplace special.
Chami really does know how to use her voice to soothe, entrance and fascinate. This, combined with the uncanny synth melodies that she is able to concoct seemingly out of thin air, is what makes her music enjoyable, and practically ineffable. (NNA Tapes)