Review: LEYA – Eyeline
National Music Reviews
LEYA = Aphex Twin + Eartheater
What does the word ‘ambient’ mean to you? To me, ‘ambient’ means pale, liminal. It lies somewhere between full and empty, somewhere completely removed from the atmosphere we walk through each day. It exists in a space below the floor, or between the layers of our skin. Because of this insidious space-taking—simultaneously everywhere and nowhere to be found—this kind of music can become sneaky in itself.
LEYA, is a New York–based music duo consisting of the harpist Marilu Donovan and vocalist/violinist Adam Markiewicz. They make experimental ambient music that toys with the senses. Their newest project is Eyeline, which features Okay Kaya, Eartheater, Julie Byrne and others. Collaborating with friends and colleagues pushed this album to be more melodic than previous LEYA projects.
Eyeline pushes the boundaries of comfort and challenges the notion that music should make you feel good. It haunts without being supernatural; it possesses. LEYA’s album imagery is visceral. It stretches the human body as if it were lifeless while simultaneously highlighting the most human parts about it—skin, bones, fingers and toenails, growing hair, color and discoloration from pressure. Plain truth is at odds with the image itself, skewing the mind into a new, undiscovered shape. The music continues with this theme.
Listeners enter the scene as LEYA settles into their unsettling sound, with only hints of melody aching beneath the surface of the first track. The second track sweeps us into swarming violins over deep, heavy bass and echoing vocals. Listening to “Glass Jaw (feat. Julie Byrne)” is an uncomfortable experience, hypnotizing in a thick and glassy, irresistible way.
Each track has its own unique personality, yet they all share the same sticky underscore of horror. “Must Have Been Good (feat. Eartheater)” creeps with claws outstretched, “poem about executive function feat. Deli Girls” slides just below your skull and into your psyche and “Michael (feat. Martha Skye Murphy)” climbs right through your ears and down your throat. Like the cover, each sound seems to have a visceral trigger reaction. I feel it soft on the side of my cheek in “Dankworld Interlude (feat. claire rousay)” and slimy down the notches of my spine in the Okay Kaya–featuring track “Win Some.”
LEYA has always been true to their sound. From the feet up, this album takes listeners through sensations of the body, dropping us off at the eyeline and holding our gaze past the end. –Harper Haase