The Berlin-based artist's latest album, Air Flows, brings her warped and enchanting music to Blackest Ever Black. It has a palpable atmosphere. Some tracks might bring to mind a room filling with thick blasts of smoke-machine fog. There is an abundance of space between sounds, but Kastel records much of her music to tape, which lends a soft glow to these absences of sound.
Air Lows begins with a stumbling bassline, each note blowing out a wave of cold mist as it wanders past Kastel's voice, which beckons you to "lay back." It's a suitably drafty opener, complete with twinkling organ sounds and mystical synths circling around the composition. Its glacial movements complement what follows: freaky dial-up modem loops and swelling, icy patches. Contorted, metallic melodies dangle over Kastel's quiet choral whispers. The quiet introspection of Air Lows is sometimes punctuated with moments where heavy, mangled bleeps jolt you awake just when Kastel's nocturnal meditations have you feeling sleepy and serene. The gusts of bass that roll through lend the record a drowsy yet captivating shuffle.
Kastel's voice is mostly indecipherable, often cloaked in layers of delay or conveyed in a mumbling whisper. But on "Spiderwebs," it crawls towards the forefront as she enunciates, "It's the poetry of nothing." Nighttime has been a source of creativity for Kastel's music in the past—The Gap, her last solo full-length, was partly informed by taking walks through Berlin at night. This LP occupies a similar headspace. A graceful continuation of her catalogue, Air Lows has an alluringly frosty charm.