upsammy – Germ in a Population of Buildings (PAN 132)
On her sophomore album “Germ in a Population of Buildings”, upsammy moves through her surroundings with the curiosity of a place-bending landscape architect. The album is rooted in her interest for ambiguous environments in constant shift, and the feeling of discovering strange patterns in different ecosystems. Often, the Amsterdam-based artist finds herself zooming in and out beyond a place’s most recognizable surface features to inhabit the microscopic and gigantic. Gathering field recordings and evocative environmental sounds, she shapes this source material into vibrating electro-acoustic rhythms and unstable, psychedelic textures.
upsammy’s debut album, 2020’s critically-acclaimed “Zoom”, was praised for its careful reimagining of IDM, evolving vignettes that nodded towards the dancefloor without being shackled to its rigid set of rules. On “Germ in a Population of Buildings” her process has evolved considerably; the skeletal trace of IDM is still present but it’s been trapped in amber, allowing her unique sonic landscape to develop organically. ‘Being is a Stone’ is a proof of concept in many ways, layering upsammy’s contorted voice in rickety patterns beneath a lattice of fragile rhythms and faintly melancholy synths. It’s never immediately obvious where the sounds are coming from – a hiccuping beat might be glass cracking underfoot, and larger pulses could be wet concrete, rusted iron or bent plastic. As the sounds develop they morph into each other, demolishing what came before and building on top of the ornamental wreckage.
On the dynamic ‘Constructing’, upsammy’s sound design fluxes through hyperactive bass music structures, abstracting expectations at every turn. Often her sounds are whisper quiet, rattling and vibrating until heavier masonry drops and disrupts the structure. And when discernible rhythms subside into the background, like on the album’s eerie title track, they become almost illusory, morphing between the real world and the electronic. upsammy’s processed voice works like a bridge between these realms, snaking between stark, whimsical melodies on ‘Patterning’, arching from AutoTuned detachment into cooing, dreamy intimacy. By considering the harmonies between each location she’s visited, upsammy has been able to build a unique topology that’s an uncanny digital amalgam of her lived experience. It’s a thoughtful alternative in an era more concerned with flatting the landscape than crumpling it and examining its peaks and troughs.
Mastered by Rashad Becker
Mixed by James Ginzburg
Artwork by Jonathan Castro Alejos and Tharim Cornelisse