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Kali Malone: All Life Long review – music to blot out the world’s clamour

(Ideologic *****)
Returning to the *****-playing that made her name and adding brass and vocals, the Thom Yorke-approved composer revels in the possibilities of her instruments

You could describe Kali Malone’s sixth album as her most approachable to date, but it’s perhaps wise to give a bit of context if you do.

It is, after all, the follow-up to 2023’s Does Spring Hide Its Joy, which contained a grand total of three tracks – all versions of the same piece – and lasted over three hours. Featuring Malone playing a sine wave oscillator accompanied by cello and guitar, Does Spring Hide Its Joy was in itself substantially more approachable than, say, 2018’s Arched In Hysteria, a composition consisting of fearsome discordant tones overlaid with what sounded like the fizzing and humming of an amplifier on the fritz, or the same year’s compilation with a self-explanatory title, ***** Dirges 2016-2017. Her music operates somewhere on the border that separates modern classical – she studied electroacoustic composition at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music – from the world of avant-garde drone rock: her chief collaborator is Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, who’s also her husband. An interview with the Guardian in 2023 had her enthusing about overhearing the racket made by five gardeners all using leaf-blowers at the same time (“There’s so much beautiful sound out there, it’s all just your perception whether you experience it as music”).

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