For fans of Tim Hecker and Holly Herndon, Katie Gately is a producer and sound designer whose meticulous compositions sit somewhere between music and sound art.
Released in 2016, Gately’s debut album Color wavered between industrial collages and playful, abstract pop tunes. Tracks like ‘Tuck’ and ‘Lift’ offered up fractured rhythms, fierce licks, field recordings and layered vocals hooks. Her new album, Loom, does something similar, but with greater conviction and weightier emotion.
Loom is the night to Color’s day. Inspired by the death of her mother, Gately’s 2020 album is a deconstructed howl of grief – a meticulous exploration of her immediate response to this life-changing event. Production wise, her voice is further forward in the mix now and densely layered in choral laments above a coarse foundation of hard and brittle sound design.
The most arresting track is ‘Bracer’, a slowly evolving odyssey in which thunderous electronics and processed samples are paired with possessed-sounding orchestral instruments, each dancing to their own elegiac tune. ‘Alley’ is another highlight. This one’s all about the vocals, which, heavily layered and processed, remind us of Holly Herndon. “I am living in a womb made of dirt and dust”, she sings, sounding like a ghost drifting through some arid landscape.
Notable in this album (and across all of Gately’s work) is the heavy use of samples. On Loom we hear Gately’s own (heavily processed) recordings of screaming peacocks, shaking pill bottles, a closing coffin, howling wolves, a shovel digging, audio from her parent’s wedding and an earthquake. All of this contributes not only to the incredibly rich sonics of the thing, but to its deeply personal emotional content. While sample packs and virtual instruments are not bad things, it’s refreshing to see a producer take the long way around – and for it to pay such artistic dividends.
Loom is without doubt Gately’s best work yet, and it’s a great time to watch her live. And what better place to do that than at The White Hotel.