Clocking in at almost two hours and featuring nothing but the deep, resonating timbre of a pipe organ, Kali Malone’s The Sacrificial Code is a major work. Using strict acoustic and compositional methods, Malone maps out her wonderful music, and the result is an album of deep emotional resonance. The Sacrificial Code is an exercise in concentration, restraint, and focus, but it’s also soothing, and through its attention to detail, it has the ability to expand and evolve with every listen. The Stockholm-based artist has gone to extreme lengths to capture, distil, and ultimately release the organ’s harmonic honey.
Following on from Organ Dirges 2016-2017, Malone’s music cuts into a deep emotional trench. Every note is made to be complete. Every sustain acts as a guide, with single, full notes leading the way, overlapping and then shifting and sculpting smooth lines, which are integral to the overall form and shape of the piece. Her long sustains give rise to a slower pace, and they’re indicative of a maturing musician with excellent compositional skills and musical understanding. Not only that, but organ music such as this requires a great deal of discipline, and Malone is able to draw the music out with patience while keeping the intersecting overlaps and the harmonies interesting.
Thanks to its minimalism, the music seems to be without barriers, soaring as if through clear sky, altering perceptions and encouraging the release of a brighter dimension. There’s a bittersweet paradox in its uninhibited freedom and the possibilities for exploration, but its freedom is defined by its very restraint, the dexterity of physical movement within the rigidity of a skeleton. With The Sacrificial Code, Malone creates a voluntary enclosure.
Malone keeps the listener on tenterhooks, waiting for another shift after the sustain, and the change has added power thanks to its longer reach and elongation. It can be quite a jolt when the change happens. It’s a sudden snap after a lingering pause, and when it arrives, it’s earthquake-shuddering. The sound is similar to an extreme-close-up in film: a highly-detailed work in which every texture and microscopic oscillation is on display, and the ruminating drones never lose their aim, cohesion, or musicality even in the face of such surgical precision and execution. She used carefully placed microphones to eliminate the natural reverb of the surrounding space. This has the effect of zooming in on the sound, allowing music of great focus, intimacy, and intensity.
Malone has brought an incredible depth to these compositions, working their way into the soil, becoming telluric and earthen in their deep tones and grounded restraints, but they’re also free enough to grasp at the air. Stripped of all desires to adorn and fleeing from the temptation to keep on adding, Malone has driven the music to a pure landscape, echoing Steve Reich’s philosophy and approach: ‘by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind’. With no predestination set in stone, the music is unhindered, contorting itself within the constriction of the pipes to deliver deep and satisfying organ drones. They stay with you. The Sacrificial Code releases June 28 on 2 x LP and 3 x CD via iDEAL Recordings.