It’s true that for every aural artist who makes the journey to find their own sound, a small amount eventually will. For some, it’s a long, exhaustive pursuit and they might give up before they finally see it through. But for others, it’s a much easier feat, which I imagine was the case for Katie Burden, whose new release Strange Moon is a result of being persistent to get to where she believes she should be. There’s no doubt in that case that when she got there, what she found was as much of a surprise for her as it is to us.
I don’t know Katie Burden. I say that because I really want to know where all of “this” came from. I’m almost willing to bet that anyone who really does know her, even personally, might not know her either after listening to Strange Moon. Perhaps it’s appropriate to say that she’s a Therianthrope, and that during her musical journey, she went through changes where much like a werewolf, she doesn’t recall any of it after she got back; leaving behind Strange Moon as proof of where she went.
By the way, that would specifically make her a Lycanthrope — in case you’re not privy to cryptozoology. And that comparison is appropriate because she’s howling all over this thing, both vocally and in approach. In my search to try and find where all of this came from, we find that in a interview she did with Echos And Dust earlier this year, Burden talks about her writing process which — as I would expect — is a basic approach most have during the beginning of the creative process, where she starts with some melodies and then tries to force them together to see what happens.While most musicians do that, again, many will give up with frustration that they’re not getting what they want out of it. But Katie Burden is into it. A critical ear will hear that she’s not being traditional with how she gets to various endings of her songs before it’s realized that the reason for this is because she’s riding the line, finishing those moments off using flats and minors before she turns in a different direction. This is apparent in the chorus for Don’t Ask, where she uses unpredictable and melodic challenges to turn the song into unusually refreshing, and desperately needed, popping, ear-candy.
And for the moment — while music videos aren’t normally targeted in reviews, I can see some Floria Sigismondi influence going on with the visuals in video for that track. But going back to Strange Moon, much like riding-the-line in song construction, Burden also seems to tap into the in-between moments of musical influence throughout the album, where Kate Bush and Blondie dominated and thrived with their music genre, Katie Burden can make all her own; all of which is apparent from the first track. What follows are even more surprise encounters with the various manifestation of Katie Burden, which can be chillingly impressive, before the intimidation of her talent shakes the creative spirit to its core.
Katie Burden is fearless in her journey, knowing that she carries as much of the “burden” it takes to make it, overpowering all obstacles which are apparently not small. Because Strange Moon gets her much closer to reaching her destination by her own pursuits, where she launches herself into musical momentum using a batch of mentioned periods of fringe influences, from which to craft her spells. One way she does this is with the single I Can See It Clear where you can hear that Blondie styled guitar line, which only accents the fact that she’s seized control of the song with her own vocalized melody.
The Lycanthrope example that I use comes to life with Cut The Wire where you can hear the chemistry at work, brewing, bonding and creeping into her soul which she sexes up with “Hello… Hello… Hello — you, you, you, you, you, you, you…,” until it overcomes her thus, cutting the wire, setting her off free and wild. Once you hear something like that; you have to put down the headphones and rethink your direction in life.
Cut The Wire seems to be the bridge from uncertainty into more familiar waters with Ears, where she no longer has anything to prove. She’s already sold us and Katie goes for a solid pop hit which doesn’t take much effort on her part to execute. Where Cut The Wire was Katie Burden going from one transition into the next, here’s where she’s letting lose entirely, before she returns to the kinds of songs that make the moon as strange as it looks to her. And so the title for her debut full-length album is very fitting.
A lot of questions about Katie Burden’s origins are answered in the interview referred to above, especially about her influences. It’s also fitting that comparisons have been made to such things as transmorphing and how Katie’s spellbinding musical style attributes to the occult; which comes to show that at the very least, us music reviewers are on the same wavelength when it comes to trying to describe what Strange Moon is. It also comes to show that we’re translating this into a language we can all understand, one of similar influences for which Katie Burden no longer has doubts.
But just as Katie is wildly free and spontaneous on Strange Moon, she’s also methodical and cautious. From what I gather, it’s taken her the sum of a full year to put together this release. A follow up to her 2014 5-track EP also produced by Norm Block called My Blind Eye. Judging from the sparse album drops and the attention she pays to getting it right, it’s quite apparent that she’s got some anxiety issues about rushing things out. As noted in the interview, she expressed that she did have some fears and reluctance, to get into writing her own songs. But she could not fight the melodies that were collecting. And that is the example of another calling entirely, obstacles big or small be damned. In the end that’s where Strange Moon essentially comes from. And when pressed to explain the dead livestock or the musical equivalent of the devastating impact she’s making on listeners of Strange Moon; she’ll do what any victim of the Lycan curse does, and claim that she doesn’t remember.
[Photo by Kristin Cofer/Working Brilliantly/Cautionary Tail]