The Water Memory of Emily A. Sprague

Five tracks of humid music from synthesizers

Released at the tail end of 2017, three quarters of the way through December, long after most best-of lists had been filed, published, and amended online with reader comments, the New York-based musician Emily A. Sprague released Water Memory, a cassette/digital release of original synthesizer pieces. At the bottom of the album’s Bandcamp page she lists the technology with which it was composed and performed, but knowledge of the boutique manufacturers — Monome, Mannequins, and Xaoc among them — isn’t necessary for an appreciation of the seesawing, nature-infused, artfully somber music the album contains.

From the morphing glisten of “A Lake” to the muted glitches of “Your Pond,” the album’s five tracks share a form that is genteel and economical and, yet, richly emotional. The album’s title is appropriate. There is something seemingly humid about the music, in the way the various elements congeal and amass, how the separations between parts get foggy, how the whole thing unfolds in a manner that suggests the presence of an environment: not just organic — the term employed frequently to suggest machines losing their machine-ness — but prone to the consequences of organic: irreversible decay and unforeseen growth.

Get the full album at mlesprg.bandcamp.com. More from Sprague at mlesprg.info. I wrote here about her work previously when she was a guest of the excellent Sound + Process podcast.

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