With chimes and drones, Madamdata explores the emotions of empty space on a thick band of orange light

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Madamdata | via madamdata.bandcamp.com

Experimental Philadelphia artist Madamdata, a founding member of the SMTH Savant electronic arts collective alongside Kilamanzego and others, first caught our ear last summer with a moving meditation called Four Short Stories in Curved Space​-​Time, a live set recorded in Singapore and dedicated to the memory of their friend Julia Caplan.

Madamdata’s new project, a thick band of orange light, is their first full-length release since then, and it’s an expansive and stirring collection of sound. “I recommend listening to it on headphones at a slightly lower than average volume,” the composer writes on their Bandcamp page, also acknowledging that the project “was a long time in the making and a lot of healing had to happen before it was even possible. I hope it brings you a little light.”

The album murmurs and stirs in intense ambient spaces; this is no Brian Eno trying to make pretty background music for [insert location or medium here], it’s more akin to early Juliana Barwick or Aphex Twin, using sound to capture feeling.

“Bells for Marilyn” is a serene five minutes of windchimes, with melodies breaking through on a breeze; by comparison, “reflector #29” is a harsh blast of high-pitched dissonant tones. “Cutting Dawn” is a spacious eleven minuets of barely audible synth drone, while “Whales” is 13 minutes of tidal keyboard tones moving to and fro, culminating in a piece that is unsettling but also quite beautiful.

Beyond the “expansions and contractions of space” description, Madamdata doesn’t provide a ton of clues or cues as to the meaning or underpinnings of this 21-track collection of sound, but it’s clearly has deep emotional roots. Listen to a thick band of orange light below.

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