Cyclic Defrost

An Australian magazine focusing on interesting music

Agnes Szelag – No Summer or Winter (Aphonia Recordings)

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Agnes Szelag, one half of Oakland’s Myrmyr with Marielle Jakobsons, presents a short release of just four songs on No Summer or Winter. Her work as a solo artist focuses on the relationship between sound and visual media, and the whirling yet crunching undercurrent to the first track ‘Lato’ sets the tone for the piece. At just under twenty five minutes the compositions on No Summer or Winter are allowed enough space to grow and fortunately don’t outstay their welcome.

One of the difficulties of appraising Szelag’s work is deciding where (or even if) there are boundaries between the performance space and the home listening experience. ‘Man Made Weather’ in particular seems built for the former environment – a movement that lapses into languid cello after being prefaced by swathes of noise and processing. Though No Summer or Winter wasn’t written specifically for such a purpose, it somehow seems intrinsically linked to a place outside of where her audience listens from. ‘Inside and Out’s does tries to bring the sensation back though, all hazy synths and soft textures. There is some delicate cello work throughout the EP, but nowhere near as fluid and organic as it appears on her work with Myrmyr.

As No Summer or Winter unfolds over repeated listens, the progression is made clearer. It becomes almost a dialogue between the summer and winter seasons Szelag composed it in, uncovering fragments of processed vocals that act as clues to the shifting world outside. There are some exquisite moments here – even if it does feel sometimes as if the confines of the art installation are closing in.

Alexandra Savvides

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