It's always nice when a solo project comes into its own, and Whitney Johnson, aka Matchess, has taken off into the stratosphere. Better known as the singer and violist of psychedelic Krautrockers Verma, Johnson has been performing as Matchess for years, using prepared tapes, delay-treated vocals, minimal beats, cosmic keys, and viola to pursue her interests in the paranormal and sound art. To make a lazy comparison, she sounds like Nico of Velvet Underground fame lost in the darkest regions of outer space. After a series of cassette releases, Johnson released the first Matchess LP, 2014's Seraphastra, on the local Trouble in Mind label; its follow-up, Somnaphoria (the second installment in a proposed trilogy), comes out this week. She recorded Somnaphoria in her home studio (Cooper Crain of Cave and Bitchin Bajas handled mixing), and it's a leap forward for her: as Trouble in Mind puts it, the album "fuses elements of contemporary classical music and modern experimental electronic music with a neo-new age mysticism." I recommend seeing Matchess live with a full-on light show, which puts Johnson's striking, icy presence at the heart of a mind-bending swirl of synaesthesia.
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