Stockholm-based US composer Kali Malone is best known for her unfurling works for the pipe organ, a standby of church shock and awe increasingly deployed in irreligious contexts. The Sacrificial Code, her 2019 album, broke Malone – an elegant but austere minimalist – out to the wider drone music scene.

Other instruments have long counterpointed her output however – such as the synth, sax and the boite à bourdons (drone box) of 2022’s Living Torch, an organ-free zone. Doom guitarist Stephen “Sunn O)))” O’Malley and a cellist featured on Does Spring Hide Its Joy (2023); Malone’s sixth album is on O’Malley’s label.

Two overarching themes run through her work: the micro-evolution of sustained tones and the forced passage of air through pipes, be they metal, wood or tissue and cartilage. Hence All Life Long’s principal innovation: voices. It takes compositional themes and runs them through multiple tubes – brass, organ and flesh. The title track is reprised twice, once for organ, once featuring the choral Macadam Ensemble, the latter singing The Crying of Water by Welsh poet Arthur Symons, from which track and album glean their title.

For those expecting Malone’s all-enveloping instrumental embrace, the churchiness of the voices can startle. But the younger artist came to music through choirs, and the sorrowful grace of the words makes plain emotions she previously only implied.


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