Static electricity prickles the skin inside the ear as it crackles and ripples through the opening moments of Cheryl E. Leonard’s captivating new album on mappa, Schism. The title track continues like a tour through an alien landscape where flora and technology mix together, creating something new and unheard. Electronic rain rolls across the hum, distant birds singing a forlorn song while synthetic hollow sounds emerge from beneath the dirt and bellow across the wind. This music is tactile, there to hold and touch. Salty ocean scents emanate from buried glass jars, gently shaken to wake up the senses. Yet, this is not music behind glass; it exists in the open spaces beneath firecracker skies.
Leonard continually blurs the line between the synthetic and the real. Aural canyons rise out of voltaic dust. “Eremozoic” resonates inside a cylinder, atmospheric sounds a metallic howl etching shapes on rock, reminders that life exists outside the looking glass. Boxed in, trapped by invisible boundaries as water sloshes just out of reach; a beckoning to escape and get back into the world. Leonard stitches together the disparate sonic elements to create something introspective and moving.
The two pieces on Schism hint at life outside these current confines and highlight all that’s been missed during the last year. Beyond, though, is a blacker hole that promises to swallow the world whole without action, and in these tonal pathways is an attempt to shake the slumber from our eyes. Schism is a moving treasure.
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