By: Will Pinfold
Kib Elektra | website | twitter | soundcloud |
Released on via Bezirk Tapes
There are many excellent reasons for owning a really good pair of headphones, and Kib Elektra’s debut EP, Blemishes is now one of them. As music, it is sometimes beautiful, sometimes quirkily charming and always interesting. As sound it is an extraordinarily busy clutter made up of layers of electronica; glacial cleanliness, richly textured squelches and percussive clatter, interwoven with various organic elements. Among these are bass and guitar, analog synth (if you can call that organic) the odd bit of found sound and everywhere Abi Bailey’s voice(s); warm, intimate, sometimes angelic, sometimes almost conversational; bringing an imperfect human warmth to the songs.
Abi Bailey is perhaps best known as a session musician and bass player, but Kib Elektra is entirely her own work, revealing her to be both a stunning multi-instrumentalist and a writer of memorable, evocative songs. In fact, it is the songwriting that makes this EP (from cassette label Bezirk) special; that said, the music is not exactly ordinary; glitch pop (for want of a better term) that feels a little like salyu x salyu crossed with Out From Out Where-era Amon Tobin. But when that melange of sounds is sculpted into five concise, catchy and atmospheric songs, the result is both impressive and hugely likeable.
As the word pop (even when prefixed by ‘glitch’) suggests, Blemishes is overall an accessible release, but its commercial appeal shouldn’t be overstated; kicking off with the excellent ‘Breaking Skies’, Blemishes is obviously not primarily concerned with shifting units. While not fanatically awkward it is perhaps the most impenetrable song of the five, combining a pounding tribal feel and thick synth-bass noise with airy, glitch-laden jazzy vocals to very peculiar effect, eventually coming together in a strangely dislocated and (to these ears at least) Japanese-sounding way.
From then on, the songs become, if not more familiar, then less impersonal. ‘Hairclips’ has a simple, Spacemen 3 chord progression with an early-Eno lyrical feel and a winning, winsome charm. ‘Din & Drone’ begins, as its title suggests, as more of an experimental sound collage, but adds layers of vocals to become an atmospheric, fragmentary near-chant with some of the best singing of the EP. ‘Blemishes’ itself is a short, intimate song with a hauntingly hushed atmosphere and the least electro/glitchy texture of any song here, although it’s very organic-ness makes it pleasingly imperfect. The closing song, ‘Hermeto’ brings together all of the strands of the EP with a choir of multilayered celestial, celestial Roches-like vocals over some lurchy, throbbing electronic bass noise.
In the time it takes to read this review, you could instead have checked out some samples and ordered the tape; which is probably the thing to do. A fascinating, hugely promising debut that tickles the ears pleasantly from start to finish.