Leslie Keffer - Veiled Matter
(No Part Of It, 2023)


Knowing nothing about Leslie Keffer before hearing this album, I approached Veiled Matter with a clean slate of no expectation except that, existing on the No Part of It label, there must be something unusual, creative and weird about it.  The cover shows a woman, Keffer, sitting by a serene sun-reflecting lake in a blue dress and veil, appearing to be deep in meditation.  It’s an inviting and beautiful image that piques the imagination of what may be possible on this recording.   What one finds on Veiled Matter in fact is not so simple to pigeonhole into any one bucket or category, which goes much to Leslie Keffer’s credit, instead exploring a myriad of sounds I would describe most primitively as something between ritualistic, pulsing drone electronics and meditative, somewhat dark ambient.  In some ways I am taken back to Rapoon’s earlier works such as The Fire on the Borderlands, but there is a more stripped down and noisier tone to Keffer’s output which is of remarkably comparable quality to the English master, combining creeping, half-awake synthesizer melodies over repetitive electronic percussions.  Per the artist herself, describing the journey on this record, “the trees are made of opalized stone and are brilliant, bioluminescent colors.  I meet a being once I am there who shrouds herself from us on our plane in minerals and crystals, but once I am in her realm, I can see her in her royal blue veil as she leads me through the petrified forest.”  Such imaginative imagery reminds me strongly of George Wallace’s story-book type ambient records which invite the listener on a journey with different songs representing different chapters of a narrative, which seems to be in some part the case here.  Every composition is a meditative portal into some new zone of reality with beautifully woven drones, low-fi noise echoing in the distance and sometimes melodic, sometimes more texturally inchoate elements reflecting lapidary crystal walls with millions of gleaming reflections or more distant, subaqueous summoning from Keffer’s - who is not so much conventionally singing but evoking semi- or unconscious incantations into parallel universes - ethereal and multi-layered processed vocals.  My first few listens of this album left me a bit uninspired due to the often soft and minimalistic nature of much of these tracks.  However, with time and patience and the proper frame of mind, the full shape of this album took form and I began to better appreciate the atmosphere and direction of both its more direct, beat-driven pieces as well as its more shapeless compositions.  What may seem rather simplistic and low-key at first blossoms, like a strange flower in a desiccated desert, with time, into something more sophisticated and rewarding than first conceived.  A charming and thoughtful work overall that evokes a unique, meditative vision in sound, if Leslie Keffer continues with this quality, I think things will only improve from this point forward. I recommend checking it out.

Read more of my reviews in issue 10 of Convivial Hermit, order here.