kaitlyn aurelia smith

Download: Mixtape: Experimental Music from Bay Area Artists (Podcast #369)

We may focus most heavily on indie rock at The Bay Bridged, but we also aren’t oblivious to the many talented local artists operating outside of standard rock and pop conventions. The Bay Area has long been home to talented experimental and avant-garde musicians who employ acoustic and electronic instruments in unique and impressive ways. We’ve collected music from twelve experimental local artists in this mixtape.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some more conventional elements being played with here. As you’ll hear in the mixtape’s opener, local musician Andrew Weathers crafts improv-driven songs blending compositional textures with folk and Americana. Improvisation also drives the duo Black Spirituals. Together, sound artist Zachary James Watkins and percussionist Marshall Trammell make captivating heavy psych; it’s no surprise the group recently toured with the band Earth.

Similarly heavy is the new collaborative release between 3 Leafs and Body Swap. And if you’re looking for warped, pastiche-laden post-punk, be sure to check out Swanox, led by Anthony Orion (who also happens to be the drummer in Tony Molina’s band).

Equally impressive, though, is the variety of experimentally-inclined electronic artists in the Bay Area. Notably, two artists in this mix — Horaflora and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith — will be performing at next month’s annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. Smith’s musical arc is fascinating: after studying composition at Berklee, she played in an indie-folk band before discovering a vintage synthesizer that led her into the hypnotic sound-sculpting you’ll hear in the song included here.

Two other electronic musicians in the mix straddle the worlds of the avant-garde and pop: Christopher Willits and Holly Herndon. Willits is a multimedia artist whose latest, OPENING, is one-half synth-drenched album, one-half immersive video piece. Herndon’s Platform arrived in May on 4AD, showcasing the San Francisco musician’s laptop-sampling wizardry. Another notable fact the two artists have in common: both have masters degrees in electronic music from Mills College, a school that has played an important role in fostering local experimental talent.

Enjoy the mix!

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Track Listing:

Andrew Weathers Ensemble – “Live By Golden Rule: Go Orange Be Strong”
Black Spirituals – “Black Resonance” (starts at 8:18)
Voicehandler – “A Meager Labyrinth” (14:20)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “Tides V” (19:39)
Christopher Willits – “CLEAR” (26:40)
Chuck Johnson – “Medicine Map” (excerpt) (32:18)
Adam Hirsch – “Tunnelvision” (35:36)
Horaflora – “The Gland Canyon” (excerpt) (45:51)
Swanox – “Bank of the Orient” (48:58)
Holly Herndon – “Chorus” (55:11)
3 Leafs and Body Swap – “Before You Were Born” (1:01:00)
Bill Orcutt – “A Genealogy Of Dysfunction” (1:06:34)