Tekla Peterson “Heart Press”

Taralie Peterson can do anything musically. Recent years have seen her and Ka Baird’s Spires That In The Sunset Rise project expand deeper into new psychedelic zones and her solo work take on multiple new forms. Even so, I wasn’t adequately prepared for the crestfallen angular pop configurations of her latest guise’s debut. Borne from the ashes at the end of a 20-year relationship, Heart Press leaves behind the most beautiful of scorched Earths.

Overlaid with noir silhouettes, Heart Press digs through the emotional carnage with directness and honesty. “You should tell me when you decide to die, “ Peterson spits over propulsive rhythms and crystalline keys on “Swarm of Gnats.” “I’ll come by and wish you the best,” she continues across a lithe edge, the catchy melody etching itself into our psyche like a rusted token of past lives. Peterson’s visceral spirit centers all of Heart Press no matter the shape of the sonic escapism at hand.

Part of why Heart Press is so effective is because Peterson’s arrangements are stripped to their bare necessities. She never overcooks the layers, always choosing the straightest path ahead to set the emotional impact into the inoculating fire. “Between a Rock” lumbers forward on glistening synths as her voice stretches to its limit. “I have only myself to blame,” she croons through neon tears, the underlying electronic melodies effervescing like a hardened stone disintegrating into silvery nothingness across dub-inflected beats. 

Venturing deeper into the void, “WWIB” blots out the sun with its sweeping cadence and soaring, surgical leads. Peterson lets herself go all the way into the abyss without flinching. Chaos and drama rise as she howls, “God take me from this beautiful world of pain.” Synth strings cascade like darkness filtered through a prismatic core, spilling light and darkness in every direction. Heart Press runs a gauntlet and “WWIB” is a cathartic climax.

Nothing on Heart Press is easy, but in the drifting timbres and rising mists of closer “Count Out Shadows,” a pensive peace emerges in the emotive saxophone clouds and in Peterson’s words. “Here we go again,” broken but determined, the music presses on against the odds. Immersed in the seething, overtaken by the heartbreak, the cocoon bursts open into a new dawn.

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