It’s not quite accurate to say Okay Kaya (Kaya Wilkins) and Katie Gately invented an emerging new hybrid of ethereal, breathy pop melody and musical experiment. After all, Hatchie, Jenny Hval and even Julee Cruise might be considered predecessors. But with Okay Kaya’s new Watch This Liquid Pour Itself (Jagjaguwar) and Gately’s Loom (Houndstooth), the genre takes more mature form.
Norwegian-born Kaya relies more on lyrical witticism, delving at times into the absurd in tracks such as “Insert Generic Name” and “Psych Ward.” Yet the layered psychedelic sounds demand to be taken seriously, making her second album more than just observations from a sardonic songwriter.
Gately is more formless, using voice as an instrument like Ka Baird or Holly Herndon.
Lest you worry this makes the album a New-Agey Windham Hill takeoff, stark lyrics to songs like “Allay” and “Bracer” mourn the loss of Gately’s mother to cancer in 2018. As this new genre expands, more artists will move into more ambient sounds, but for now, Gately and Okay Kaya manage to marry ethereal chords and startling arrangements as ideal partners.