LF17 / Edinburgh

Elizabeth Joan Kelly


Louis Pelingen

May 2, 2024

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

The crisp coldness of Scotland's capital is summoned through sonorous ambience and field recordings

The city of Edinburgh is littered with historical structures, their ornate designs loom and evoke a sense of magnificence. There is a haunting, yet nonetheless, alluring aura that permeates their very presence, from the gnarled, multi-level street systems to Edinburgh Castle, sitting impossibly atop Castle Rock. No wonder then, that Elizabeth Joan Kelly chose the location as both inspiration and wellspring for her auditory release. LF17 / Edinburgh carves out sonic pieces from sounds recorded by Mat Smith in the Scottish capital. Utilising these recordings, the Louisiana-based Elizabeth Joan Kelly instals them in a winding, open ambience.

There is an airy invitation that opens up Calton Hill, where dense rays of synthesisers and spying vocal swells move the listener to a spot where a light bathes everything around them like cold morning sun. The track refuses to stay idle, with the artist employing an uplifting ambient style with soaring melodies and classical pulses. There is a touch of reverence to the sound, white chilled light careering over the tops of the city’s buildings, weaving up and down its unique topography. 

Moving down the road towards the grandeur of Princes Street Gardens, the overall mood is now flipped, where the tone is austere and even antiquated. The frigid soundscape feels more confrontational. You look up towards the gothic castle perched as sun breaks through its bones. It takes the listener on a journey down the soil, where the ray of bellowing organs and delayed synth pads offer a dour experience as darkness seems to coil. Yet those sun rays are fleeting moments of glimmer passing through, with a different layer of synth pads carrying that sense of light that eventually simmers away, collapsing upon the prominent dimmer instrumentation.

Calton Road Cobblestones ends Elizabeth Joan Kelly’s sonic exploration of a small patch of Edinburgh’s ground, taking the listener to a spare and empty space that opens up slightly through the wandering keys, frigid noise, mulling synth pads and emotive strings that close off the song. It’s an ending that lets free-wheeling melodies speak to the aura of Edinburgh, encapsulating the ominous yet rich spirit of the city.

A sonic experiment that makes use of open ambience and recordings to create enveloping sonic spaces. Ominous may be the history behind these buildings, yet through Elizabeth Joan Kelly’s viewpoint, the richness is exposed. The listener is welcomed to this place, historic, weathered but endearing.