Kristen Gallerneaux

The McClintic Chorus

A Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia is plunged deep into the uncanny valley on the latest release from the Michigan-based sonic researcher

The McClintic Wildlife Management Area was originally wartime industrial land in West Virginia. A somewhat flat mixture of farmland, wetland, and woodland, it’s where sightings of the cryptid Mothman first originated – perhaps the emotional weight of the area plays with peoples’ senses. The Area is also home to abandoned bunkers left over from Ohio’s wartime projects, making it a bounty for explorers interested in folklore and local history.

Being a writer, folklorist, artist and filmmaker, it makes sense that the Area has infiltrated the imagination of Kristen Gallerneaux. Thanks to her background, there’s a strong sense of directionality and storytelling to her soundscapes. On The McClintic Chorus, she doesn’t merely situate you in a scene; you feel like you’re walking across into different environments, moods and encounters.

While Gallerneaux works with natural found sounds like birdsong, moving branches, what sounds like a howling wind (samples taken from the Area), they are edited to the point where you have to really pay attention to identify them. On opening track ‘WHISTLES REPRISE’, it feels like looking at one of those AI paintings that resembles something in real life, but there’s a feature here or there that makes them unrecognisable. Perhaps it’s like the experience of meeting a cryptid – a moment of recognition before doubting what you saw.

As we move onto the second track, ‘DOMES’, what could be birdsong feels as if it’s morphing into a kind of distressed gargling. Industrial beats gradually become a more prominent feature, and, as they do, it feels like you could be walking further and further into one of the region’s lost wartime bunkers. Gallerneaux uses rhythm in a way that never distracts from the more free-form and airy synth pads – instead, she just draws you further into the track’s hypnotic spell. On ‘TRYING TO GET’, snatches of voice drift in and out of the sonic picture. At first, it seems like they might provide the listener with a story but it’s impossible to find any meaning in them.

While it might be tempting to draw comparisons with other sound artists, it’s Radiohead’s The King of Limbs that most stands out to me as a point of comparison. Gallerneaux’s tracks feel as if they’re dripping or seeping. There’s a kind of gloomy dampness to them. And on both of these albums, there’s a calm which sounds like it’s just about to break. What should be relaxing birdsong on Gallerneaux’s album sets your teeth on edge when positioned next to oozing drones.

On The McClintic Chorus, Gallerneaux takes aim at the emotional quality of exploring mysterious landscapes that are already dense with folklore and historical weight. After all, these stories often inform the way we see or listen to a landscape when we’re in it. It’s the point where all these factors can no longer be picked apart; despite its supernatural samples, this album still feels very human.

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