Back in the somehow less-fraught year of 2021, Milwaukee was introduced to Mere Of Light—a.k.a. the ethereal and mystical bedroom-folk project of musician Elise McArdle. The five-track Fell Tales was filled with lilting harps and half-whispered vocals, nature field recordings and light electronic flourishes. A year later, many of those features return on the four-track Haptica, though they’re now joined by a gorgeous video and a take on a traditional English murder ballad. The latter certainly seems appropriate for 2022.
First, the video for EP opener “The Wood Between The Worlds.” McArdle says the clip “takes inspiration from in-between places in life, liminal lands that allow us to rest, breathe, and play.” Filmed and co-created by Grace Mitchell, it features “abstract textures and shapes, conceptualizing the body as a landscape.” It’s a lovely, soothing, and sensual piece of work. We especially love the calming beach setting and the shot of the ducks.
Now, the EP. Recorded and produced by McArdle using only a digital recorder, some mics, a folk harp, a synth, and some guitar and drum machine work from Eddie Chapman, Haptica is another hushed, otherworldly affair. “Shapeshifter” is a gently pulsing prayer, “Green Hymn” is a nostalgic ode to the magic of the seasons (“Sure, I hate the fucking Midwest / But oh god, you know it’s so green”), and “Cruel Sister” is a haunting and Pentangle-inspired take on the aforementioned traditional English murder ballad—itself based on a folktale about a young girl drowned by her jealous sister.
As for the title of the EP, McArdle explains that it’s “derived from ‘haptics,’ meaning ‘the use of technology that stimulates the senses of touch and motion,’ or ‘the perception of objects by touch and kinesthesia in nonverbal communication.’ Sometimes called the sixth sense, kinesthesia is our body’s internal sense of movement, position, and location. Haptica reflects the role of touch in music—the strangeness of physically touching a synthesizer, harp, or guitar, and creating a sound experience (a nonverbal communication) for a listener.”
Reach out and touch—and listen to!—Haptica now.
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