During prolonged winters, people will often use light therapy as a means of warding off the adverse effects of seasonal affective disorder. The intensity of the lux from these lights invigorates our retinal cells — which are connected to the hypothalamus. This region of the brain releases critical hormones and helps regulate body temperature; stimulating it with light can help give you energy and aid in maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm.
I couldn’t help but feel like I was receiving a kind of immersive, multi-medium light therapy when I attended the Iceblink release show back in February. As the crowd packed itself into Moon Palace’s small auditorium, Lynn Avery — the main brain behind Iceblink — tinkered with the lighting just minutes before the show started. There was a healing warmth from the lights, the texture and tone moths daydream about.
With the kind and introspective chamber pop the Minneapolis-based Avery writes, I walked out of the performance feeling revitalized. It was as if a sort of newfound, psychic heat was melting the barren dusk around me.
That seems to be exactly what Avery intended when she composed her debut album, Carpet Cocoon. Her goal was to create a “comfort album, music to retreat to in the winter.” The ten-track instrumental LP — released on the independent, Portland-based tape label Moon Glyph — combines intricate nylon-stringed licks with soothing woodwinds and ambient percussion. It inspires contentment within oneself, without giving in to lethargy. On one hand, the album makes you want to curl up with a cup of tea. On the other, it implores you to find some imaginary crawl space to explore.
Avery, 23, was still waking up when we met for at interview at a diner in late February. She sipped black coffee while she waited for her omelet and toast to come. Her poppy-seed colored sleeves, which covered the muted tattoos crawling up her arm, were wrapped tightly around her body.
Avery got her start formally producing music when she started the short-lived project Xylophone Jetty with local musician Jack Jensen and Radio K alum Erin “Stevie” Stevenson. “We were all obsessed with Broadcast and the kind of musical influences that surround that band. It’s a whole rabbit hole that you can go down,” she explained. “We were trying to write pop songs.”
While Xylophone Jetty weren’t around for long, Moon Glyph contacted them and asked if the band wanted to release a tape. Since the band were defunct, Avery went ahead and offered to write an album to put out on the label. She continued exploring the found-sound, deconstructive approach to music that Broadcast advocated for. Specifically, Avery points to the mixtapes that Broadcast frontwoman Trish Keenan, who passed away in 2011, curated.
“There’s a specific sound to those mixtapes. They kind of go everywhere, from British Invasion to folk, to like Indian television music and dance. And also, the soundtrack from British children’s TV shows and then just about anything else avant-garde in the 60s. Some music that was produced for the theater, and stuff like that. And so I wanted to imitate that sound through my solo project,” Avery elaborated.
Iceblink’s production process is very much based around the philosophy of the mixtape. Much like with Trish Keenan’s fascination with cross-Atlantic ’60s cultural artifacts, Avery is interested in synthesizing a plethora of influences into a solid form. Avery wants her music to invoke a kind of retro feel, but one that doesn’t necessarily feel dated.
“That’s why I love [cassette mixtapes] so much,” she said. “It sort of takes music that could be like very new; it could be the ’90s or ’80s. Or it could be old. It could be like the ’60s or ’70s. If you put them all together on a cassette. It’s suddenly like they all exist in the same time period, an unnameable time period, but they all have the same color to them.”
Liberal use of woodwinds add to the project’s depth. Cole Pulice, a saxophonist who has worked with high-profile acts like Bon Iver and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, was the main musician Avery worked with while producing Carpet Cocoon. Along with Mitch Stahlmann, who played flute on the record, Pulice was directed by Avery to create a “phrasing style that had a super wispy, airy, reedy, and languid.”
“One of the things I value most about her vibe as an artist and working with her is that everything always feels super honest. Like it never feels like the music is trying to be anything other than what it is,” Pulice said. “She’s good at not overthinking during her creative process. Making music with her feels super playful which I really resonate with — sort of letting music/ideas reveal themselves in the process of making it.”
The end result is an album that is meant to capture the most introspective and personal moments of your day, an album that sits between an alternate past and an alternate future. “It’s taking these ideas of its bedroom produced music, but it’s also sort of meant to be listened to and enjoyed in your bedroom,” Avery said.
Avery also hopes listeners will use it as a means to set the tone of their day. She wants you to ”pop in a cassette that will last about as long as you sit and have your breakfast and coffee in the morning. That’s part of the story. It was sort of supposed to be kind of background music to set the mood for your day or your morning,” she said. “Sometimes mornings can be very romantic.”