With her debut release arriving on cassette before being given a limited vinyl pressing by Digitalis, it’s not surprising that Motion Sickness Of Time Travel – otherwise known as Rachel Evans – hasn’t received the same kind of attention as her more visible peers coming out of the US synth underground. Of course she’s not the only female US artist creating delicate synth music – her compositions share a common textural link with Laurel Halo, whose music shares a certain “new age” quality – but that’s as far as the comparison goes. While Halo’s music becomes poppier with each release, Evans’ slowly evolving drones are far more indebted to 20th century music concrète. “The Summer Of The Cat’s Eye”, for example, is at one point flecked with what sounds like a reel of magnetic tape chewing itself to pieces – a moment which, along with the prickly reverse tones of “The Dream”, have the bustling timbres of Varèse at his most chaotic.
The very name of Evans’ project conjures up a heady interzone outside of reality where time stands still. By her own admission, speaking to FACT last year, the project arose out of her “trying to create soundscapes rather than traditional songs; just trying to make something that suggested an environment all on its own… an alternate reality, if you will”. It’s something she’s obviously particularly gifted at – “The Dream” for instance opens with the monolithic sound of glacial drift, before melting into a subaquatic darkness, and then morphing into a pulsating distress beacon with ever increasing degrees of urgency – but it’s the sense that her music puts time out of joint that’s particularly intriguing. The slowly evolving nature of her music is actually reminiscent of the results of the brief Soundcloud trend a few years ago for slowing down pop tracks by 800 per cent, but while those were often fairly dull exercises in proving a point, Evans’ music gives you the impression of being an observer looking from a distance at a natural scene that unfolds over millennia. The bristling sounds of “The Center” conjure up an image of moving through the chaos of the cosmos from the centre of a glass viewing sphere.
If all of this sounds saccharine, then that’s because it is, and there’s undoubtedly something of the teenage acid trip present in her music, but one that’s filtered through a wide eyed innocence you can’t help but get absorbed by. And though it may at times be a solitary trip through her lonely realities, Evans’ vocals – made practically indiscernible by echo and reverb – act as a comfort blanket, showing that even the most alien of soundscapes can be opened up with a human touch.
1. The Dream
2. The Center
3. Summer Of The Cat’s Eye
4. One Perfect Moment