Eartheater practices her own strain of poetic alchemy. Shapeshifting between electronic experimentation and acoustic texture, the Queens-based composer / producer / multi-instrumentalist / vocalist’s art has long delved into themes of erosion and lithification, along with the infinite possibilities of metamorphosis both emotional and physical. On Powders, the first of her two upcoming albums, alchemical forces connect ideas from every stage of her career just as they dissolve her practice into atomized particles ripe for reconstitution.
Powders positions Eartheater at a fertile crossroads, embracing collaboration in production and professional studio recording practices while honing her pop songwriting and her lyrics to their sharpest and most vivid state to date – all without losing the thread of future-facing experimentation that has enlivened her work from her earliest recordings. “I’m drawn to the way a pop song can sound like sugar until you realize it’s laced with poetic bitters and remedy,” she explains.
Powders and its forthcoming sister album Aftermath took their initial shape and vision within the hallowed walls of Sunset Sound in Hollywood. Eartheater recalls feeling so inspired by the studio’s illustrious history that music simply “flowed out of me as soon as [producer] Yves Rothman placed this incredible vintage guitar in my hands. The channel to magic was lubricated.” Rising to the prospect of working for the first time in a series of more traditional studio environments, she assembled a network of trusted co-producers and players, including Yves Rothman, Sega Bodega, Lecx Stacy, Casey MQ, Elliott Kozel, Tony Seltzer, Luis Aponte, Isaiah Barr, Sammy, and her long-time friend and right hand girl Kiri.
In Eartheater’s hands, the archetype of “Los Angeles popular music” in all its contrasting visions of glamor and turbulence morphs into yet another tool to add to her wide arsenal – a new shade that sits on the palette alongside every other pigment she’s gathered. Powders feels like the most unabashed pop of her career, radio friendly in its concise song structures and its exploration of atmospheres that might appear more pleasant and broadly cinematic on the surface. Yet Eartheater can’t help but subvert that idiom, drawing our attention towards the granular details of each cascading vocal performance, the surrealism of each lyrical turn of phrase, and the sublime eccentricities in production that steer any given track down avenues far from where it began.
Powders draws varied energies from Eartheater’s own omnivorous tastes as a songwriter and from her stable of collaborators, showcasing production that shifts on a dime between mutated dance music, unadorned folk balladry, trip-hop, and torch song pop songcraft. If her compositions seem to inhabit a shell of one style for the span of a verse or so, tendrils of another style slide into view. Her signature filtered blastbeats well up alongside bursts of sub-bass to wash over bright acoustic guitar riffs ready for the autumn beach. Swirls of flute and orchestral strings rise up throughout, offering a throughline of chamber music now six albums deep. While previous albums found Eartheater’s vocals typically warped by effects or piled thick with multi-tracked layering, Powders presents them resolutely up front in the mix, highlighting her performances with new purity and detail. As the distinction between the genres that she dips into begins to fade away in the mosaic view of Powders, we follow her words and her transfixing multi-octave melodic runs wherever they may take us.