Ka Baird - Sapropelic Pycnic LPDrag City Records
Sapropelic Pycnic is the Drag City and world debut of music presented under the name of Ka Baird. While this record is a commencement of many sorts, it is in no way a mere beginning. Ka’s ritual is well underway here, her craft clearly already a dedicated mas- tery; it finds her on the hunt for new discoveries with a humble desire for the transfigured, the sublime. This has been among the goals since early times, when Ka was one of the founding members of experimental psychlings Spires That In the Sun- set Rise. Formed in 2001 out of the Chicago scene, and described by late guitar legend Jack Rose as a “female Sun City Girls,” Spires’ sisterhood of sound deepened the New Folk slant with an array of avant- and world-fla- vored directions drawing them ever-far- ther into the source. Ka relocated to NYC in late 2014 and immediately embarked upon new directions—exploring piano improvi- sations, electroacoustic intervention, extended vocal technique, physical movement, and the electronic process- ing of her flute playing. The singular force that is Ka is represented on two releases under the Sapropelic Pycnic name—the improvised piano album See Sun Think Shadow (released in November 2015 on Brooklyn’s Perfect Wave imprint) and the Coltrane trib- ute A Love Supreme (on Chicago’s No Index label in January 2016). With the release of Sapropelic Pycnic, Ka manifests an evolving selfhood, expanding upon the essence of her first two albums’ artist name, while replacing and thus becoming that name on her own. “Sapropel” is a contraction of the ancient Greek words sapros and pelos—putrification and mud. “Pycnic” draws from pyk- nos—dense; stocky. This wordplay is meant to suggest a physical consump- tion, ingesting of the nutrient-rich mud found at the bottom of seas, lakes and rivers. Very much akin to the gorging of this metaphorical sludge, on Sapropel- ic Pycnic, Ka Baird imbibes sounds to provoke unseen forces within the wilds of her own unconscious, then brings them into the play. Emphasizing breath, via voice and flute, Sapropelic Pycnic is a possession, a physical catharsis, a transformation, comprised of burry, guttural rhythms, loops and clusters of flute figures with gliding vocal and synth melodies. Reaching toward the ancient roots of music, Ka utilizes electronic manipula- tion to take the ear past preconception, combining the linearity of the physical with the abstraction of the cerebral, crafting textural rhythmic noise along- side lush operatic passages, containing multitudes. Conceived live as a series of solo vignettes and played that way by Ka (featuring contributions from Max Eilbacher (electronics), Sandy Gor- don (vibraphone) and Troy Schaefer (violin)), Sapropelic Pycnic draws from primordial ooze and raises high a sacrifice to the immemorial concept of the sacred, citing Chris Hedges in The Power of Imagination: “A society that loses its respect for the sacred, that ignores its oracles and severs itself from the power of human imagination, ensures its obliteration.” We are standing on the verge of a great chasm. Sapropelic Pycnic uses tools both ancient and modern to draw Ka Baird—and all who listen—up- ward, toward the eternal.