The plaintive flute that opens Katie English’s first full length for Hibernate is slightly misleading in its unadorned gentleness. Next time you hear it, when it reappears for ‘What Lies Inside’, it’s accompanied by a screed of fizzing, crackling electronics, gradually making itself reheard amongst the tangle like an animal trapped in wire.
Performing under the Isnaj Dui moniker, English uses a variety of acoustic instruments and home made electronics with which to create her patient, occasionally jarring sound. She is capable of both, using some tracks to stretch out and lull and others to chop and screw. The image on the cover of Abstracts On Solitude sums it up well, being a blurred picture of her live set-up that appears to combine both the pastoral and the synthetic.
After ‘What Lies Inside’ passes it’s the ambient, pastoral side that is allowed to bloom. The squealing on ‘Quarter Wave’ is deep in the mix, relegated to a struggle behind clucking, hollow woods until, on ‘Nature of Light’, it begins to sound at home. Beneath the bass flute this time, somewhere in the distance, what once was a knot of metals has opened up and taken roost. One more tale of uncertainty follows – the dulcimer that creeps through ‘Peripheral Motion’ reminded me somewhat of certain pieces on Aphex Twin’s Drukqs album – before English crowns Abstracts with the magnificent ‘The Last Will Become A Darker Grey’, a long and haunting track that combines the soothing ebb of strings with the faint sound of breathing. It starts off like distant thunder and grows to become the pulsing heartbeat that pushes the album to its glorious close.