Tethers is many things, but most importantly it’s a rumination on what is possible if we can just stop a take a long, deep breath. Something mystical permeates the aqueous field recordings, intimate synth meanderings, and vulnerable voice memos that are light in their approach but tread heavily in their outcomes. Maya Weeks is an accomplished writer, artist, and geographer, but Tethers is her sonic debut that stitches together all these skills and interests into a diary-like scrapbook set adrift.
Wind and water are major themes and integral components of Tethers. Considering Weeks’ work on marine pollution, this makes sense, but within this context, there’s closeness and companionship that unfolds. On “Persona Archive/Future Rock Record,” Weeks’ voice memos are like midnight confessions; the disembodied voice of a memory. “It’s my favorite thing about the ocean, how it asks me to follow my body,” she recites overlapping waves and soft pad swells. Looking inward at these moments, capturing them, and setting them free, a universe explodes. “I would like everything to have meaning,” she says, twisting leads glimmer under the oceanic moon, moving buoyantly with the water’s vibration. “I think everyone is psychic.”
Throughout Tethers, the smallest convergences bear the sweetest fruit. Static dissipating into entrancing vocal incantations on “War on Time” flow with an ancient energy, like long-forgotten magic reawakened. The piece ends with Weeks’ voice doubled, disorienting listeners, encouraging focus as she whispers, “I think it’s easy to underestimate how intentional you have to be about your work.” Tethers is filled with salient nuggets and their staying power is only heightened by the personal, eloquent timbres.
Buried in the sand on the opening waves and birdsong of “Argonite,” Weeks laughs. It’s a counterpoint to the somber notes and melancholic chords that propel the piece up to that point. In that split second, though, Tethers breathes. Weeks’ debut is a wistful meditation on a strange, difficult time, but it never lets the heaviness become the dominant emotion. Even in the darkest hours, light exists. Laughter exists. Tethers encompasses all of it and reflects it through Weeks’ unique prism to give us something enchanting and new. None of us really know where we’ll be in a year, a month; the possibilities are endless and Tethers entices us to slow down and let the path take us where it may. As she tells us, “Nothing is certain but death and plastic.”
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