Katie Dey’s debut is very short, clocking in at just over 20 minutes. But within that brief space of time she has produced a wonderful, weird and quite original piece of experimental pop. The first time I heard asdfasdf I wasn’t quite sure what I’d just heard. All I knew was that I liked it, a lot. It’s easily one of the most interesting albums that I’ve come across in recent years. The type of music that Dey produces is often referred to as “bedroom pop”. More recently though it’s also been labelled as “hypnagogic pop”, a term coined by David Kennan to describe artists with a similar lo-fi approach to recording, but that don’t necessarily create the same style of music. Ariel Pink is probably the most well known in this particular corner of the music world.
Dey’s music first came to the attention of Coma Cinema’s Mat Cothran, who discovered her work via Tumblr. They soon started talking and she sent him over some demo tracks. Cothran went on to show them to someone at his label Orchid Tapes, which in turn offered to release Dey’s work. Being a big fan of the label, which has released albums in recent years by Cothran’s band Coma Cinema, as well as Alex G and Foxes In Fiction, she was understandably delighted at the opportunity to work with them. Dey had already built up a decent little following online which resulted in the first batch of cassettes selling out on the same day they were released.
asdfasdf contains seven tracks and begins with its two strangest, “don’t be scared“, with its high-pitched vocals, clean acoustic guitar and skittery beats, and “fear o the dark”, with its slow, trudging beat and heavy guitar. Then “unkillable” bursts out of nowhere with a short blast of slightly unsteady melodic pop. This is followed up by “h o e” with its messy blues riff and strained 60-a-day smoker vocals. “all on you” takes the album in another direction with a sort of ballad-like number. After this “y o y o” is pleasantly melancholic, repeating the lyrics “you’re on your own” about half way through before bowing out noisily. And the album ends on quite a chipper note with the lovely instrumental, “you gotta get up to get up”.
With asdfasdf, Dey has created an excellent blend of raw, original and abstract pop. It’s playful and bizarre with its shifting pitches, layers of disjointed sounds and manipulated vocals. It’s very much a pop at its core, but its experimental nature pushes that definition to its limits in the best way possible. It’s a fantastic debut which certainly deserves more attention than it’s received so far. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.
Genre: Experimental Pop; Hypnagogic Pop; Lo-Fi; Psych-Pop
Released: 28 April, 2015
Label: Orchid Tapes