One of the interesting side-effects of the disintegration of traditional music distribution models has been watching how it influences the evolution of artists and genres. Take the case of the broad swath of projects operating in the post-witch house milieu; bands rapidly evolving via DIY and self-release, and finding infinite possibility to grow in the vacuum left by the collapse of the music industry. It’s that environment that allows releases like Mahr’s Her Embrace to exist, a remix album that plays more as an artist release and serves as a document both of her own abilities and those of her contemporaries.
A collection of the Pale Noir label boss’ remixes for other projects, Her Embrace showcases a range of artists and ideas, each draped in Mahr’s own specific aesthetic. Her work favours the spacey, reverbed corners of witchy music, icy consistency and deep-sea basses and pads floating together with a kind of boreal grace, never rushed. As a formula it can be applied to a variety of styles with even results, stripping away melody and structure in a way that creates cohesion between songs that might not have had much in common to begin with. An electro-infused bit of creep like Silver Strain’s “Transmission 333” has little to do with the organic grandeur of ∆AIMON’s “Evil Eye”, but here both are rendered glacial slabs of pure texture, severed from their original form and remade as digital dream-logic versions of themselves.
The flip of any recognizable formula is of course its homogenizing effect, and while Her Embrace certainly has a sameness to it from beginning to end, there’s also a comfort to be found in that consistency. I found the best way to listen to it was to load it into iTunes, set crossfade to about 10 seconds or so and hit shuffle; divorced from an absolute framework, elements like the crackling digital distortion on the mix of LAKE R▲DIO’s “Every Little Thing” or the from-a-distance yelps on the “Mahr’s Telephone mix” of Mushy’s “My All Secrets” become highlighted, surfacing from obscurity for a moment in the light, then being drawn back under. It makes for a less focused but more immersive listening experience, something I can imagine Mahr appreciates the value of considering her bio’s focus on stimulating the subconscious via music.
Much like Distorted Memory’s excellent Temple of the Black Star, I like the curatorial aspect of Her Embrace a lot, the notion that an artist can make music while also speaking to a movement of some like-minded creators is appealing. That lends it some additional value to music nerds like us, a useful archive of ideas and sounds from a particular moment in time. Its impassive, distant air might put some folks off, but it’s sounding pretty good to me right now, a pleasant if very specific and moody soundtrack for a dark, rainy night.
Her Embrace is available as a free download from Bandcamp.