Essential New Music: Matchess’ “Sacracorpa”

Whitney Johnson is the sort of side person who makes any project sound better. For confirmation, check out her strings and singing on recordings and live work with Ryley Walker, Circuit des Yeux and Sarah Davachi. She also has some strong ideas about how music should sound on her own, and they come together quite vividly on the fourth LP by her solo project Matchess. Medium and message converge on a half-dozen songs that sound a little like Stereolab condensed into a soundtrack for inner exploration and healing.

Effects blur Johnson viola, Acetone organ, cassette tapes, singing and drum machines, smudging the clear lines of her melodies and evoking a struggle between conflict-induced unease and inner-generated lucidity. The instrument she messes with the most is her own voice, which induces the listener to follow Johnson into the zone of supernatural calm located at the center of her songs.

—Bill Meyer