[review] Red Alder // Hyper Vertical

Kelsie Brown has been releasing a steady stream of quiet, ethereal bedroom pop on her bandcamp page under the name Red Alder for over a year. Last week, on June 24, she announced that an entire album’s worth of older tracks were going to be released, and this is that album.

Though the songs aren’t meant to fit together to create a cohesive album – as they are lo-fi demos for the most part going as far back as 2005 – the general style and atmosphere of each track is very similar throughout. A piano awash in reverb builds over the top of vocals that are simultaneously whispering and shouting to be heard on “So Gracefully”, perhaps the most well formed of this collection as far as pop structure is concerned. Despite these songs not being thought of as forming an album “In Rain I Sat Alone and Waited” does seem to pick up where “So Gracefully” leaves off melodically. Synth tones overlap, accumulating a cloud of dissonance before disappearing into the night.

Another instrumental, “Untitled 2”, draws similarities to Erik Satie’s solo piano works. The simplicity of two repeated chords with a wandering, melancholic melody over top sounds uses the Gymnopédies and Gnossienne of Satie as starting points. And in “Two,” Brown’s voice cries out in occasional dissonance against the gentle piano texture.

This collection is available now on the Red Alder bandcamp page for any price you’d like. Though no performances are listed at this time, if you are in the Seattle area keep your eyes out for a possible show in the future.

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