Tallesen Stills Lit Through on LP
Stills Lit Through (2014) offers the first comprehensive body of work from musician and visual artist Tallesen. Hailing from the Hudson Valley of New York, Tallesen – born Cayman Johnson – describes Stills Lit Through as a response to the "continuous flexibility of the physical setting by the additive of sound." A reference to his joyful erasure of the distinction between music and experience.
The 12 songs of Stills Lit Through conjure an eidolon of melodies painted with watercolor brushstrokes both calm ("Glenticast") and frenetic ("Emmel"). To our ears, this closely characterizes Johnson's work as a visual artist. The collection when taken as a whole is wonderfully consistent. We hear echoes of Autechre's corporal maneuvers (bass as lead voice, plasticity of foreground vs. background), but, if you dig out the provenance of Johnson's nom de plum, you really start to understand how the melodic through-lines of the record operate on a more illustrative level.
What appears to you as a macro-level core ‘feeling' about the record is illusively varied, consisting of insanely lush song nodes that subtly and endlessly rotate and shift. It is a music that is both ultra beautiful ("Strike Silver, Love Green") and invested in a core belief dealing with the materiality of musical sound itself ("Plasticized Fsa"). It's not the house in which melodies are stored, it's the crypt of inspiration from which melodies emerge from.
Rhythmically, Stills encourages ephemera towards the creation of a seductively creaky, silvery universe with an unreliable sense of gravity. The result is hallucinatory in that the album comprehensively experiences like volumes among volumes of things change, but in half-speed. "The music is saturated with information for it to remain flexible to its surroundings," describes Cayman, an ode to feeling "ambiance with a modern degree of attention."
Thus we enter the world of Stills Lit Through, a comprehensive portrait of young Cayman Johnson's enigmatic, sensual world-building music.