By Kiah Easton, Columns Editor
[Orange Milk; 2019]
Key tracks: “touch”, “orbs w/ frere tuck”, “tender”
This article cannot accurately represent the experience presented by galen tipton’s fake meat. It is like broken glass smashed on the floor, light sparkling off of multi-faceted surfaces or a combination of textures and composites that never stop moving. With its sudden impressions and fleeting moments, fake meat ambushes your brain with the complexity of sonic data and quickly morphs from intricate, harsh sounds to melodies that bring tears even after many listens. This is the potential of modern sound design, technology and experimentation; it is a demo of sound effects you’ve never even thought could exist. fake meat is both organic and entirely in-organic, a digital imitation of something that never actually existed.
Read more: Lobsterfest 2019 Q&A: galen tipton
Galen takes her listeners to different worlds, and each song is a new environment full of life and secrets to explore. “Touch”, featuring Holly Waxwing and Giant Claw, is a song that can’t be forgotten. It’s that brief tingle down your spine, but the tingle doesn’t go away; it’s there for the entire four minutes. Each sound is alive, the sum of its parts wiggle and dance around your head with a butterfly-like movement. Pops and clicks tickle your ears while one of the most infectiously beautiful melodies in existence unfurls. At the three minute mark, the song shifts tones from youthful joy to an almost somber cry. Without any decipherable vocal elements, galen and her collaborators use sound design and instrumentation to sing to their listeners. “Touch” seems a fitting title, as the song reaches out and holds you in the most gentle and poignant way, leaving you with the feeling of saying goodbye to someone you love.
If you close your eyes, you are transported to an indiscernible empty void, like a voyage through space. You may also hear the sounds of your ship’s interface as you swipe through menus and tinker with its high-pitched, squeaking controls. This is the picture “orbs w/ frere tuck” paints with its ambient, droning background and clicky, scattered sound effects. galen creates an environment so specific, alive and moving that it’s hard not to close your eyes and imagine the auditory landscape.
“Tender” bursts out with an onslaught of layered pianos, cheesy midi guitars, and galen’s signature high pitched Vocaloid sound effects. The intro is offbeat, jagged and hyperactive, jumping around with no definite structure. This is a 21st-century absurdist rock anthem born out of the hyper-saturated digital era. Transitioning from a crunchy, abrasive chorus into a softer breakdown, galen strips some elements away, leaving a space for the brain to breathe after an overload of auditory data.
fake meat goes beyond the idea of music and explores sound in its most pure and experimental forms. Some of the album’s moments are as gentle as a scene from your favorite romance movie, and galen quickly shifts from beauty to machine-like sounds and indecipherable languages. The title fake meat seems appropriate, as each song has that duality: organic like a field of crickets and inorganic like the project came out of a sterile, purely digital environment. The words fake meat imply an imitation, but the product galen produced is not an imitation of anything that has existed. Rather, it is some inner material only known to her, and in that is the beauty of expression through music.