Hot off the heels of last year’s exceptional Living Torch, Kali Malone has delivered an album version of the previous live exclusive Does Spring Hide Its Joy. She approaches this ambient work with much the same expertise that she has brought to previous records, but here further expands her vision to include collaborations with drone artist Stephen O’Malley (of SUNN O))) fame) and experimental cellist Lucy Railton. The resultant record is dense but keenly focused, and somehow a further step forward for the already tremendously accomplished artist.
Fittingly for someone from the ambient world, Kali Malone’s career began with work as a pipe organ tuner, a job that leaves one intimately familiar with the inner workings of an instrument utilized to fill the entirety of a performance space. In many ways, this former profession also works as a tidy metaphor for Does Spring Hide Its Joy. There are nuances present and palpable in every corner of this record, littered intricacies that may take many listens and a high-fidelity audio setup to truly appreciate. The impressive length for which specific tones are held, the dark brooding drone of an electric guitar sustain, the rhythmic pass of the cello strings slowly enveloping the record’s sound: These precise and compact instances — and many others like them — lend the work an intensity that leaves it sounding grander than the sum of any artists involved. The overall tenor places the listener within the imagined space of a large room, with reverberating sounds that are both blanket and balm, crafting a sense of serenity, even religiosity. The album moves in a similar fashion, smoothly sliding between tracks and variations, imbuing a meditative quality — nothing feels like an afterthought.
In some ways, Does Spring Hide Its Joy almost feels more like an installation piece, a work to be experienced in a more physical sense. That’s fitting, as the composition came to be in the early days of the pandemic, a time when our connection to public spaces was ruptured. There’s a safety, a security, in Malone’s sound here that overrides the emotions of that unsettling headspace entirely, offering up communion in its stead and the possibility for wonderful collaboration. And so, whether she’s flying solo or cultivating artistic connections, Kali Malone’s one-two punch of 2022-2023 solidifies her as a thrilling and essential new voice in the world of ambient music. It’s certainly not a genre for listeners to approach casually, but those that Does Spring Hide Its Joy does reach won’t be able to deny its deep effect.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 4.