Since the release of her debut album Metalepsis in 2015, Alexandra Drewchin’s Eartheater project has evolved into new performance styles and cycled through a diverse menu of genres, while she has introduced her music to scenes and new contexts all over the world over years of international touring. With Hausu Mountain’s reissue of Metalepsis, appearing on vinyl for the first time with updated artwork, we travel back five years to a period of her work where you would more likely find Drewchin’s three-octave voice swooping through gorgeous cascading melodies as she fingerpicks through ornate chord progressions on her acoustic guitar, rather than pouring out lacerating noise texture and technoid beat structures from a pair of CDJs. The idea that these two (of many) sides of her project are at odds with each other, however, is a total fallacy, as Eartheater’s holistic practice remains in a state of constant recombination and willful juxtaposition. Her recent sets have come to balance her heavier post-club material with a reincorporation of long passages of stripped down voice-and-guitar performance. With this in mind, a reconsideration of Metalepsis could not come at a better time.
Tracks like the majestic “Homonyms” and the stripped-down finale “Infinity” float the closest to legible structures in keeping with folk artists like Vashti Bunyan or Linda Perhacs. Drewchin’s songs latch into temporary cycles for a few stanzas before jetting off into one-off flights of harmony that stand behind her soaring vocal lines. On “Homonyms,” she winds her way through a labyrinth of tumbling melodic figures that range from tongue-twisting, almost rapped mid-range cadences to bursts of color in the highest of falsettos. Drewchin tries on hard-effected belting closer to 90s alternative rock (“Youniverse”), layered wordless coos and chirping vocalizations (“Macro EV”), and pensive spoken-word whispers (“The Internet is Handmade”). Her lyrics toy with themes of humanity’s increasing integration with technology, with our tiny role and self-perception in a vast universe, and with the boundaries between the imagined dreamworld and the (u)(dys)topia expanding before us. For all of her mastery of voice and traditional instrumentation, Eartheater’s omnivorous, collage-like approach to production pushes Metalepsis beyond the limits of singer-songwriting and out into the deep end of modern electronic experimentation. Shorter sketches like “View Point Strata” and “Youniverse” stand as miniature flights through contrasting sound sources and broken anti-structures. The chirps of Drewchin’s pet birds join with peals of atonal violin, while a jovial verse by an anonymous Russian rapper arises out of a sea of garbled, heavily processed vocal fragments. Even the tracks that skirt closer to more conventional forms play host to detailed electronic backdrops of percolating percussion patterns, sliced and looped synth formants, and swathes of pure synth texture.