Review: Saloli — ‘The Deep End’

Portland’s Saloli’s (Mary Sutton) solo debut for Kranky Records surfaced after performing and composing on a synthesizer for a soaking pool event. It’s not a stretch to hear this music in unison with people motionless in a basin of heated, bubbling water. The Deep End is starkly elemental for not being imbedded with field recordings and water samples. Like water, Sutton’s analog synthesizer meanders, shifts, and responds to previous movements. Her sonic brush-ups and pitch accouterments could not reach in the same ways on a parlor piano or guitar; Sutton’s synths code the language of water, air, and ice in real time.

“Barcarolle” is an instant submerge of pitch steered synth. Sutton returns frequently to the major melody altering the Jacuzzi experience into a baptismal of majesty. The battle ready melodicism in “Umbrellas” registers as wildly new and explorative while maintaining a universal nod to something that’s always been. This heroic theme chronicles something greater. Sutton gently tugs listeners under her shield of respite.

Imagery heavy, “Revolver” is compressed like chilly, winter air. The abysmally deep tones find pockets of air between hair and face. Like watching snow collect on a surface, Sutton’s approach is slight and easy to glance over. “Hey Ahh” ambitions a softer, more meditative response, while the well-titled and shapely “Ice World” gently plunges into another realm. The melody is a soft stroke to the chest, resulting in goose bumps similar to an unprompted touch from a lover. “Anthem” rides the pitch control, flubbing like gelatinous bubbles, while Sutton plays with an air of spontaneity.

Highly introspective and communal, Sutton’s ambience flares a distinct structure not immured by any imposed fencing or direct jurisdiction. The Deep End flows and ambles into all the necessary places cyclically. As melodies graze and manifest continuous, hypnotic threads, all nine tracks reach together. Album closer, “Lullaby” speaks to this storied and versed collection of human emotions. Sutton’s ‘new age’ compositions are subversive and plunge into an untapped ice age of discovery.

Like the cover photo, Sutton offers stillness, amongst water’s long game of cutting into fragile, earthen tones. The Deep End’s profoundly canorous sounds trim in similar ways. The crux of The Deep End is not so much a sauna soundtrack inviting one to take a soak; rather the altering experience water plays in our lives.

(Check out The Deep End below via Bandcamp.)