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Lydia Ainsworth
Right from Real

Lydia Ainsworth — Right from Real (September 30, 2014)

                        Lydia Ainsworth — Right from Real 
≡•   Blurring the boundaries between indie music, filmic orchestration, and electronic music, Lydia’s debut “Right From Real” thrives on haunting melodies and draws inspiration from a wide range of musical sources — Verdi’s Requiem, Ace of Base, Bulgarian Choirs, Bernard Herrmann, Tones on Tail, Art of Noise… to name a few. This sense of unexpected marriages of influence flows throughout much of Lydia’s work which features use of voice sampling and string arrangements woven into a unique minimalist fabric.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Album release: September 30, 2014
Record Label: Arbutus
Duration:     31:29
CD / 12 “Vinyl
1. Candle      3:16
2. White Shadows      4:47
3. Malachite      3:17
4. Take Your Face Off      3:30
5. Moonstone      4:15
6. Hologram      4:04
7. PSI      4:21
8. The Truth      3:59
℗ 2014 Lydia Ainsworth, under exclusive license to Arbutus Records
≡   All tracks written by Lydia Ainsworth / Matthew Lessner.
≡   Lydia Ainsworth Arranger, Composer, Mixing, Producer
≡   Jeremy Dabrowski Layout
≡   Lenny DeRose Mixing
≡   Matthew Lessner Composer, Cover Photo
≡   Peter Letros Mastering
≡   Dejaun Martinau Vocal Engineer
≡   S. Vaughan Merrick Mixing
By Michael Rancic; Score: 8
≡     Lydia Ainsworth’s career path has brought her from Toronto to Montreal to New York and back again, but her debut record doesn’t sound as if it’s tied to any of those cities. Instead, the composer turned pop musician conjures her own world, an ethereal place where bits and pieces of Björk, Fever Ray, Owen Pallett and other stray influences collide and crystallize into a style that’s hers and hers alone.
≡     Gorgeous string arrangements give the record an ornate quality, but its pulsing electronic core keeps it from sounding too precious or delicate. Ainsworth uses her vocals to carry a lot of the melodic weight of each song as they swell and crest, but she also cuts and chops them up, allowing them to take on the character of percussion or strings as needed. Overall, the production really serves the record, maintaining a consistent atmosphere throughout that never overpowers her. ♣ (http://exclaim.ca/)                                                           
Words by Katrín Braga, 06.06.2014
::    Tell me a little bit about yourself.
≡   My name is Lydia Ainsworth. I am a musician from Toronto, Canada.
::    Tell me a little bit about your new EP ‘Right From Real’ — Pt. I?
≡   Right From Real — Pt. I is an EP of four songs, it’s an introduction to a larger collection of songs I’ve worked on over the past few years.
::   How would you describe your music to a public audience if they have never heard you before?
≡   My hope is that the songs sound a bit like shivers caused from a lucid dream… that moment when you are first aware/accept that things are a little off~kilter…
::   You have composed for movies before, what are the differences in your creative process when composing for a film compared to working on a album?
≡   In my experience the creative process for each has been very different. One very basic example of this is that when writing for film the form of the music is often guided by the rhythm of the visuals, the structure of the composition ends up bearing very little semblance to that of a song. The biggest difference between the two to me is that when writing music for a film the aim is ultimately to fulfill a director’s vision whereas when working on an album the process is much more insular and personal. I love both.
::   I feel that your EP goes over a range of emotions — do they come from your personal experiences or outside inspiration?
≡   That’s interesting… it’s a balance of both… always starting from a place of personal experience and in the case of this collection of songs always ending through an interpretive lens. I’m not singing from my own perspective, I’m singing through a character or vibe I’m working on for a particular song. Personal experience will always play into whatever emotion I am trying to convey, I can’t control that part of the writing process, it’s also what drives me at the most basic level.
::   Who are your biggest musical influences?
≡   Peter Gabriel, Meredith Monk, Bernard Herrmann, Wendy Carlos.
::   Where do you see yourself in the future?
≡   Somewhere I can compose / sing /... (http://bast-magazine.com/)
REVIEW about Pt. I:
June 19, 2014 | By Brennan McCracken
≡   A few weeks ago, Chris Cappello wrote in his reflection on Brightside’s Now and Loud that “it’s hard to deny the empowering potential of properly soundtracking one’s own condition.” It’s not a total revelation, but as an inspiring piece of writing that reflection stood out to me among most other things that I’ve read so far this year because of its bare truth: I too resonate with the idea of music as a mirror, as either an image of or a reaction to one’s current state. Still, I often think that that’s a dangerous line to walk; matching your mood with a record will always be an invigorating experience, however I worry that too often I dismiss music because it doesn’t align with what I feel (or want to be feeling) when I listen.
≡   I recently streamed Lydia Ainsworth’s debut EP Right from Real, Pt. I  for the first time during an evening of anxiety and procrastination. I was in the middle of writing and studying for a handful of exams, and the jittery, chopped~up air of Ainsworth’s music simply did not connect with me. Sure, I enjoyed it, but something kept me from compulsively returning to it like so much of the music that I love. The uneasy vocal clippings littered around opener “Candle” and the minor~key shuffle of “Malachite” only served to amplify my anxieties during an evening when I wanted the exact opposite. In one way, I felt understood, but I also felt suffocated by the singularity of emotion that I was experiencing. I often celebrate music that allows me to feel deeply; and yet, while Right from Real certainly produced an internal reaction, I pushed it aside. As I’ve returned to the EP over the past few days in anticipation of this writing, I’ve started to think that maybe I should have embraced it.
≡   Of course, it’s easier to make such a statement today, as I find myself in a much more mellow place than I did a few weeks ago. “Candle” and “Malachite” still make me feel on~edge, but those sentiments now seem constructed, simulations of past feelings instead of explorations of my current condition. I’ve also noticed that my interactions with the record have changed with my mood; when I was more nervous or upset, lyrics like “my mask is blackness,” and “I’m your deepest fear” (both loosely transcribed from “Take Your Face Off”) cut through Ainsworth’s orchestral arrangements and provided footholds for my climb through the EP. Today, those same lyrics don’t hit me with the same gut punch as they did before. I distinctly recall that “White Shadows” had initially sounded uncomfortable and disorienting, like being pulled underwater; now, that song feels more kinetic and alive, reminiscent of Braids’ inspiring “In Kind.”
≡   So, after a few weeks of listening to Right from Real, I’m left with two opposing circumstances: when my emotions mirrored those that I perceived to be in Ainsworth’s music, a listen to Right from Real felt personal and vexing; listening in a more emotionally detached state, this record translated as more rhythm~oriented, a mostly physical experience. Ainsworth’s debut is beautifully composed, yes, and her rich vocals are a lovely foil to the often complicated arrangements that surround her. But for those willing to invest themselves, these soundscapes can provide a myriad of emotion, from reassurance to discomfort, anxiety to enthusiasm.  It’s incredible that such a spectrum of feeling can be packed within a compact, four~song release: it’s an unexpected achievement for such a young artist and a testament to the power of music as a purely visceral force. Fortaken: http://www.portalsmusic.com/
By Patric Fallon; September 25, 2014; Score: 7.9
≡     Lydia Ainsworth flourishes amidst contradiction. A Canadian artist raised in a “household soundtracked by Björk, The Beatles, Nirvana, and Arvo Pärt,” she taught herself the cello from the age of 10, while insisting that she’s terrible at the instrument.
≡     Ainsworth nonetheless went on to study film scoring at McGill University and NYU, and landed her first feature–length credit in 2011 for Matthew Lessner’s painfully self-aware escapist satire, The Woods, which claimed to “build upon the… contradictions of young modern day Americans.”
≡     Yet it was during these cinematic pursuits that she found a love for pop composition and vocals, and quietly began to write songs from the perspective of her diverse and disparate musical backgrounds.
≡     As such, Ainsworth is now a studied classicist with distinctly modern curiosities; her debut album, Right from Real, doesn’t attempt to resolve its differences, but rather culls vitality from the meditative space between its opposing forces.
≡     Because of their ties to Montreal’s Arbutus Records, comparing Lydia Ainsworth with label mate Grimes may come quick and easy, but the two have little in common outside of a taste for electronics. Right from Real is orchestral pop in the vein of Kate Bush and Bat for Lashes, albeit from an artist who would cite a love for Meredith Monk and Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem in the same breath. Ainsworth isn’t as experimental with regards to her songwriting approach, though, nor is she so spiritually cathartic.    Much like the Knife’s Silent Shout, Right from Real exists in a dusky, cobalt~hued twilight, after the real world has drawn its curtains closed and before the mystical realm starts to come alive. The music illustrates those enchanted hours in detail with soft-sweeping strings, modest electronic tinkering, pointed spates of percussion, and Ainsworth’s confident, versatile self~harmonizing.
≡     The eight~song album was released in two parts, and though each standalone EP is strong enough on its own merits, Right from Real only gains more impact as a full package. Early singles “White Shadows” and “Malachite” sketch out the basics of Ainsworth’s musical etymology — the first of which exhibits her knack for spectral moods and string arrangements, while the latter song is darkly affecting synth~pop with an eye on the Visions playbook. (Even the gloving and waacking dance moves in “Malachite”’s bizarre video invoke the Grimes aesthetic more than something Lydia could call her own.) But the record’s bottom section is where Ainsworth speaks to her true potential in a unique yet vaguely recognizable voice.
≡     “Moonstone” opens the second half with an incandescent waltz, a more magnetic and creative entry point than the light, orchestral patter of early album track “Candle”; in a way, it offers a portal into the deepest levels of Right from Real. The slow~swaying balladry in “Hologram” seems directed at the idea of desire, which Ainsworth ponders through cooed stanzas and stately piano phrases. “PSI” synthesizes Right from Real‘s overarching thematic and musical elements into a gush of ardent chamber pop. For the most part, the song feels down~to~earth, and yet is unafraid to soar on the wings of powerful emotions without name or purpose, as Ainsworth sends each updraft through impressionist lyrics that zoom in on the divide which separates dreams from reality.
≡     That said, it’s still difficult to discern Ainsworth’s concrete artistic identity. She’s a formally trained singer, musician, and composer with an interest in Baroque art, who also refers to contemporary dance choreographers as “genius”; she’s an artist who performs her music flanked by a violinist and a cellist, but has no problem adding a live snake into her onstage arrangement; her songs rely as much on the delicate ‘80s pop of Peter Gabriel’s So as they do 19th century choral music and Bulgarian folk singing. Throughout Right from Real, Ainsworth refuses to ever be only one thing, so by the end of her debut, it’s clear she’s an artist capable of most anything.
Fortaken: http://pitchfork.com/
Website: http://lydiaainsworth.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LYDIA_AINSW0RTH
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lydia-ainsworth#_=_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lydmusic
Label: http://arbutusrecords.com/
Press: contact@cardinal-pr.com
Agent: doug@windishagency.com
# 300 — 6545 Durocher Ave
Montreal, QC
H2V 3Z4
Michael Panontin
≡     Lydia Ainsworth may be the latest signee to Montreal’s uber~hip Arbutus label, but the Toronto~based electronic composer sure took a roundabout way of getting there. As a precocious child, Ainsworth got her start in the classical world at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. “They sent me home with a cello when I was ten,” she told Noisey, “(but) I learned how to play myself, so my technique is all wrong.” ≡   She would spend four years in New York, and it was there that her music career really started to take shape. “At NYU, I studied with this teacher named Joan La Barbara, who is a specialist in extended vocal techniques, and she really encouraged me to sing in my work. The moment when I actually started to perform, that was really the turning point for me.”
≡   In fact, the four songs on her debut EP, Right from Real — Part I, meld earnest classical elements like cello and violin with those more modern touchstones of percussion and electronics. The effect is mostly enthralling, a sort of updated version of Kate Bush’s mid~eighties primitivism. The opener ‘Candle’ in particular is rife with the sort of quirky vocals and offbeat arrangements that made albums like The Dreaming and Hounds of Love such pure sensual pleasures. Elsewhere, the single ‘alachite’, with its weirdly unsettling video references to the obscure seventies dance phenomenon known as waacking, showcases more of Ainsworth’s vocal training, particularly those soaring operatic vocals. Apparently, Ainsworth is sitting on a cache of tunes, so here’s hoping there is a Part II already in the works. ≡   (http://www.canuckistanmusic.com/)
Album Review
≡   While enrolled in a film~scoring program at Montreal~based McGill University, Lydia Ainsworth started recording audio sketches to pass the time between working on larger compositional projects. These sketches slowly took on a life of their own, with the self~taught cellist blending her background in composition and arrangement with a love of experimental pop sounds from many different eras. Ainsworth silently kept up work on these pop experiments, returning to them often for several years until they eventually resulted in the eight songs that make up her debut Right from Real. While her talent at string arrangement comes through immediately on the lively layers of cello on opening track “Candle,” the song soon takes a much more striking turn when a barrage of cut~up vocal samples come in, intertwining themselves with the song’s rumbling drums to become an integral part of the rhythm. An avant~garde approach to manipulating various vocal tracks meshes with shadowy, minimal electronic productions and a core of deeply moving songwriting for an album that’s dense, troubled, and constantly morphing into different forms. The pop elements are never overshadowed by Ainsworth’s classical or experimental leanings. Instead, there’s a deft synthesis that brings to mind some of the greats that came before her, with glacial music box samples and lush instrumentation on “White Shadows” recalling Vespertine~era Björk, and the eerie lurch of “Hologram” reflecting Kate Bush’s acrobatic vocal lines and twilight~colored atmospheres. The synth lines and looming beat that serve as a backbone for standout track “Malachite” bring to mind the more indie work of Ainsworth’s contemporaries like Grimes or FKA Twigs, but the spliced Gregorian chant~styled backing vocals and rubber~band synth tones that get introduced midway set the song apart, injecting the production strangeness of acts like the Art of Noise into what could have been a by~the~numbers electro pop single. There’s a versatility that Ainsworth controls perfectly throughout Right from Real as she blends her unlikely combinations into endlessly engaging sonic portraits that are often staggering in their cold, weird beauty.
≡   Canadian producer Lydia Ainsworth developed the minimalist electronic pop songs that would make up her first solo recordings from audio sketches she made while enrolled in a film~scoring program at Montreal’s McGill University. Splitting her time between Toronto and Brooklyn, Ainsworth recorded for years, drawing on her love of a wide variety of shadowy musical influences as well as her background in composing and orchestration to craft her tracks. A self~taught cellist, Ainsworth blended string arrangements and layers of vocal samples into her tunes, augmenting sparse, eerie electronic beats with walls of dense Kate Bush~informed vocals. Her debut album, Right from Real, appeared in 2014 on Artbus Records, the Canadian indie label that also served as a home for like~minded artists such as Grimes and Doldrums.

Lydia Ainsworth
Right from Real