‘Holy Palm’ is the debut album by Flora Yin-Wong, an artist, writer, DJ and journalist, summoning the ghosts of her life in a masterful meditation on metaphysics, superstition and memory. It’s part collage, part audio diary, part reflection; a sort of private ritual purification that comes highly recommended if you’re into works by Mark Gergis, Philip Corner, Mark Leckey and Hildegard Westerkamp.
Following her mesmerising turn on PAN’s ‘Mono No Aware’ comp and a string of wildly varying productions and mixes in recent years, ‘Holy Palm’ appears like a woven tapestry of interconnecting recollections, rendered with and around an extensive repository of field recordings made over the past 6 years.
Deploying production strategies ranging from Max processing to sharp/stitched collage work, Flora filters and tiles aural snapshots of far-flung places - from an abandoned Arctic settlement in Svalbard, to an accidental recording of a monk chanting prayers on a radio in rural Chania, Crete, and drug-fuelled Tokyo club scenes - into an uncanny investigation of how ritual punctuates and gives meaning to life.
With an abundance of references, each piece toys with the imagination’s sense of place; memory is permeable, plasmic and recalled here through abstract, textured sound design. The 10 original compositions flicker to hallucinatory effect, brooding with a dark soul as traces of gamelan intersect ghost radio signals from the Arctic and a windswept Dungeness; real, unreal, surreal.
The final pair of extended ‘Loci’ parts present the source material at its rawest and most suggestive, with fleeting grime & jungle car stereo blasts seeping into Indonesian street scenes, insects in rice paddy fields, the Chicago subway, thunderstorms, yangqin recordings; gongs, Mariah Carey, a Greek wedding in Thessaloniki, crickets at night, running water, fire safety training, a street festival in Buenos Aires, bubbles, whale calls on a boat in Tromso, wind chimes on a mountain on Teshima Island - snagged in imperceptible transitions that mirror delirious, unfathomable impermanance.
In effect ‘Holy Palm’ perceptively outlines the uncanny magick in the rift between the real world and faith-based beliefs, hyperstizing a personalised, syncretic book of sonic spells.