Taken from “Waking the Dreaming Body”, coming February 26, 2021 via Keeled Scales / Orindal Records.
Video by Karima Walker.
Tucson artist Karima Walker has long nurtured a duality within her work as a musician, developing her own sonic language as a sound designer in tandem with her craft as a singer/songwriter. The polarity within her music has never been so articulately explored, or imbued with as much intention, as on her new album, Waking the Dreaming Body.
The follow-up to her 2017 album Hands In Our Names, Waking the Dreaming Body was written, performed and engineered entirely by Walker, with the exception of bass from C.J. Boyd on the song “Window I.” Producing the album on her own wasn’t Walker’s original plan, though. A sudden illness forced her to cancel recording sessions in New York, and soon after the pandemic ruled out the possibility of returning.
Instead she made the record at her makeshift home studio in Tucson. She spent the following months recording, processing and arranging her self-described “messy Ableton sessions” into densely harmonic arrangements of synthesizer, guitar, piano, percussion, field recordings, tape loops and her own dulcet singing voice.
“I sought to make arrangements that swell at certain moments and barely hold together at others, moving with my breath and other rhythms connecting my body to the natural world. Ultimately, I was seeking to draw myself out, to reconstruct my personal narrative.”
The final result is a 40-minute dream-narrative of her conscious and subconscious minds that oscillates between the rich textures of her ambient compositions (as in the instrumental “For Heddi”) and the melody and poetry of her melancholic, Americana-tinged songwriting, as in the album-opener “Reconstellated” and the title track “Waking the Dreaming Body.” This ebb and flow recalls the liminal states of half-sleep.
Throughout Waking the Dreaming Body, Walker’s uncanny sound design evokes the delicacy, grandeur and terrifying enormity of the American Southwest. Close your eyes while listening to “Horizon, Harbor Resonance,” the thirteen-minute instrumental at the album’s center, and sense the shifting desert landscape; the slow parade of cumulus cloud shadows across the red earth, and then, moving backwards in time, the thunderous eruptions of ancient volcanoes that pushed the Tucson Mountains skyward.