December 16, 2022 | CULTURE | By Jan Alfaro | Illustration by Liz White

Virtually nobody is on campus. It’s fall 2020. I embark on a long walk around campus after eating a strangely packaged Rastalls meal. It’s that time of year when the sun has disappeared hours before I want it to, and the long night ahead has already begun to grow chilly. My steps are slow. My strides are long.

Although I’m in an organic chemistry class and have much to be doing, I don’t want to be thinking about anything. I pull out my earbuds and start listening to my Discover Weekly. Maybe music will drown out the thoughts.

The first song begins with a soft echoing saxophone tune, shortly accompanied by snapping and distorted water sounds. What the heck, this is beautiful. I listen to it on repeat at least five times and although this only totals about 23 minutes of listening time, I swear it was flooding my mind for hours. The song, “Walk Alone to Hear Thoughts of Your Own” by Laura Misch from her 2019 album “Lonely City” somehow got everything right. There I was, walking alone, hearing thoughts of my own, in a lonely city full of thousands of people.

So, Laura Misch, saxophonist, producer, and singer-songwriter from Southeast London, sure knows how to craft a jazzy, electronically experimental tune. Her discography includes two full-length albums, an EP, and some singles but does not shy from the effects it has on listeners, and Misch knows this. She commented on her 2018 single “Lagoon” –

Lagoon is a meditation on relationship and environment. When I thought about what type of environment I would like to be for other people, I gravitated towards a lagoon because of its restorative qualities. The world feels so hectic and the idea that through creativity we can construct alternative realities feels really vital. That’s why I make music, because you can construct these sonic environments for people to be transported too. Lagoon is meant to be this big sonic hug.

I’m not sure if you felt it, but just hearing “Walk Alone to Hear Thoughts of Your Own” transported me to a water-flowing environment, maybe feeling lonely but soothed by the natural state I felt I was in.

“Lagoon” conveys similar feelings but to heighten them, Misch released an “Earth variation for saxophone for voice” just last month, rawer and more stripped back, devoid of any signs of studio production or alteration. Just from this, it’s obvious Misch is in touch with nature, but it gets better. Last year, she released a short one-minute YouTube video titled “River Echo,” captioned, “Saxophone is breath, and I imagined that breath swimming through water, forming infinite river echoes.”

Visually, it’s Laura playing the saxophone standing in a river with some intimate up-close water shots. Audibly, you hear birds chirping, water flowing, sax echoing, and wind blowing. Even more recently, she released a live session of “Walk Alone to Hear Thoughts of Your Own” where she is joined by London-based harpist Marysia Osu, and electronic musician and producer, Tomáš Kašpar, on the bass synth. She usually exists as a one-woman show, so it was surprising to see her joined by other artists, although not surprising it was in a hazy orange room with a flower set design. There we have it again: her touch with nature.

I know I didn’t analyze Misch’s specific pieces very heavily but what I wanted to emphasize was her hypnotic sound. Thus, it’s your journey to embark on as you listen to more of her. Sister of musician and producer Tom Misch, she is somebody surrounded by talent, so I’m excited to see where she expands her career.

As always, give the associated playlist a listen. Playlists are always 10 songs as I think that’s a digestible number of songs to listen to. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by Spotify’s 30-song discover weekly so that’s my 10-song reasoning. With this being the last earjam of the year, I hope 2022 brought you abundant musical joy and that 2023 has much more in store. Cya next year. Happy holidays.

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