Beautiful experimental bubblegum disco with an obsidian underbelly.
Review by Jackie Stanley
Eiyn Sof is a mysterious and ever-morphing entity. She’s been putting out albums since at least 2010, but it takes substantial digging to locate all of them as they’ve been released by various labels (including Rick White’s Blue Fog, Utah’s ur audiovisual, and Ontario’s Arachnidiscs recordings) in every possible format. There is no central hub for all of Eiyn Sof’s offerings, which speaks both to the diversity of her discography and her tendency to create music on a far from linear plane.
2010’s Bloodstreams album has become the stuff of legend amongst her devoutly diverse fan base, thanks to the urgent self-awareness of its lyrics, impeccable harmonies, and the juxtaposition between rootsy twang and beautifully perverse technological manipulation that clearly set the stage for her future offerings. 2015’s Chthonic Tongue was a gentle foray into autoharp-based songwriting that conjured a timelessly feminine mythological creature; it’s evil twin sister album is 2017’s a capella, beatbox-laden Heavy Hands in Liquid Light. Meadow Thrum stayed loyal to analogue and found instruments while manifesting a highly visual lyrical feast: a fertile sprawling druidist landscape entirely of her own creation. The thing is, all of this is merely scraping the surface of an iceberg artist.
Eiyn Sof is Melissa Boraski, prolific and diverse in her creative outputs, and a veteran performer, collaborator and recording artist. The Hologlyph finds her reinventing herself yet again, humbly severing any connection to her past projects in favour of starting anew. There is something eminently relatable about her willingness to erase certain aspects of her past (entire albums have been removed from their original streaming platforms and many are out of print) whilst patiently nurturing others.
The Hologlyph is by turns sexy, irreverent, silly and revolutionary. Through all of its twists and surprises, the album proves itself as sincere as it is inventive. Eiyn Sof begins the album with an simple and seductive beat and serpentine bass line. She sings and breathes percussively in a confident lower register over Casio strings and sets down one touchstone only to drift off into the cosmos on Spaceshipbandwagon, crooning the r&b number in a lilting soprano that might well be one of her trademarks.
Instrumental Mean Muppet lives entirely up to its name: a darkly whimsical loopy dance interlude that excites before the contemplative broken tape machine whirl of Canticle for the Holy Spear. Her ethereal backing vocals counterbalance the campy 80’s TV theme plonk and funk of her keyboard riffs, uniting and elevating them seamlessly into the mix. Children of the 70’s and 80’s can safely cuddle up with the album and its dimpled Cabbage Patch doll tendencies.
Welcome surprises abound, however, and they are mercifully well executed. Eiyn Sof’s saccharine vocal delivery meets its match on the blissfully anti-social odes Stepping Off, in which she squares off with a delightfully restrained male guest vocalist, and Goodbye. The latter bids adieu not only to unhealthy emotional and spiritual attachments but also to any likelihood of the album losing melodic steam in the home stretch. Crunchy distortion pops up ceremoniously on her vocals, and all over the album, occasionally pushing itself into glorious self-oscillation as evidenced on Holy Spear. Industrial drum and bass gives way to breathy percussion in the pizzicato space baroque of Escaping the Castle.
By the time the album wraps itself up in languid cosmic imagery, it’s become clear that we’ve just witnessed a metamorphosis. From larva to chrysalis to obsidian winged creature, The Hologlyph births, comforts and teaches us the ways of a world we’ll never truly know. When transformation sounds and feels this satisfying, we can’t help but want to start the process all over again.