Recommended Listening: Karima Walker - Waking the Dreaming Body
Back in early January, when I first listened to Karima Walker's new album straight through, I turned to my partner after the final note faded and said, "Now that is an album I really, really, really like." I listened to it again the next day when walking home from work, and ran it back a third time that evening, sitting at my kitchen table. I was hooked.
As evidenced by DC's 2020 coverage, we are big fans of Orindal's output, and while each artist on the label is absolutely unique, hints of shared style exist between songwriters. For instance, on many recordings, vocals are emphasized when present - mixed to the front, almost as if you are sitting in the same room as the singer. A few Orindal labelmates also explore ideas of consciousness in their songs - weightlessly floating in between internal and external worlds. These sonic and thematic characteristics are both very much present in Karima Walker's Waking the Dreaming Body, but comparisons only go so far in describing what makes this album so special.
Karima Walker, courtesy of Orindal.
The album begins with lead single, Reconstellated, Walker's voice transmitting across the Arizonan desert that she calls home. Then Softer, a guitar ballad comes next. Both songs are stunning, but conventional in structure compared to what comes next. An instrumental interlude floats into twin Window tracks which feature spare vocals, piano, guitar, and long stretches of ambient noise. It's quite a turn in production, and marks the moment when waking and dreaming states truly begin to blur. That hazy, semi-lucid feeling defines the remainder of Walker's release.
Songs seven and eight serve as Waking the Dreaming Body's apex, though they feel like the most dissimilar tracks on the album. Horizon, Harbor Resonance is a 13-minute, multi-movement, loud/soft composition which epitomizes the "dream" mood. It also features a butt-dial sample from Friendship's Dan Wriggins, so there's that. And straightaway, after that monster instrumental ends, Walker drops into the title track - a sweet folk song so beautifully Dylanesque you expect to hear a harmonica solo. It's the "awake" moment on side B. Together, the two songs take your breath away.
Finally, the album ends with another instrumental, For Heddi, a slow drift toward a distant horizon. Waking the Dreaming Body begs to be heard in one sitting, and you will get the chance when it comes out on February 26th through Orindal and Keeled Scales. It can be purchased through this link, and you will find a sample song below. You really are not going to want to miss this one, as it serves as a high water mark release in this young year.