"Sapropelic" is a word for earthly ooze formed by decaying matter, and an apt description of Ka Baird's organic, yet natured-drenched solo debut for Drag City, Sapropelic Pycnic. Baird, a member of the psych-folk group Spires In The Sunset Rise, makes healthy use of electronic processing, often applied to her hypnotic flute playing. One of the simplest and most beautiful examples is the album's fourth track, "Metamorphoses," which consists solely of Baird's flute, edited and looped into a wordless mantra capable of inducing meditative states.
Baird describes the see-sawing cycles in "Metamorphoses" to NPR as "a back and forth between the material and spiritual," and you can certainly feel a push and pull between elemental forces. But there's also blissful reconciliation going on. Baird's flute continually returns to a basic loop that grounds her musical atmosphere. A similar effect comes from the accompanying video, which Baird made with visual artist Camilla Padgitt-Coles. Images of Baird playing and posing are layered and repeated, folding in on themselves while stretching forward. Both the video and the music are pretty minimal — "Metamorphoses" is, after all, just a few simple flute notes fluttering around each other — but each subsequent watch and listen reveals new treasures.
Sapropelic Pycnic is out now via Drag City.