Clue To Kalo
After reading little bits here and there about this release for a couple months or so, I followed the advice of one of the intelligent readers of this site and finally tracked it down. What I was greeted with is easily one of the best electronic releases that I've heard yet this year, and a disc that has provided a perfect soundtrack to several spring days already. On my first listen, I was driving around town running errands in my old car, with the sunroof open and warm rays of light soaking me. On second listen, it only added to a zen lawn-mowing experience one Saturday morning (the other part of that equation is a manual motor with no nasty gas smells, but some would call me a luddite for using it).
At any rate, Clue To Kalo is the self-described blip-hop of Australian Mark Mitchell. The release sounds similar to what you might get if you crossed Múm and Kim Hiorthoy together, mixing ocassional left-field beats, smart programming, and lush melodies and vocals. In fact, it's one of the warmest sounding electronic releases that I've heard in a long time, easily destroying the argument that all electronic music is cold and soul-less.
The release opens with the short "The First Song Of The Rest Of Your Life," and gives the listener a quick dose of things to come, mixing a drifting melody, a word-less vocal loop, and some watery drum programming, then ends just as it's getting into things. "Empty Save The Oxygen" starts out with some lo-fi guitar strums, sounding like it will veer off into a fairly standard indie-rock track, but the guitar catches and loops into an infinite two-note loop while Mitchell adds soft vocals and subtle beats. About halfway through, the track shifts gears ever so slightly, trading in the vocals for a happy little keyboard melody and some loopy beats, turning the somewhat bittersweet beginning into a grin-inducing close.
"Within Reach Of My Own Arms" piles on melodic keyboards in so many layers that there's always something new happening, while again dropping some beats that sound like they were beamed in from a fishtank. "This Dies Over Distance" arrives as the most traditional sounding track on the entire album, as Mitchell sings in an almost completely unfiltered voice over the top of warm pads and some wandering electronic chimes. At over 11 minutes long, "Still We Felt Bulletproof" opens with a pretty lethargic pace and some sleepy vocals, but smartly changes things up about halfway through and again ups the ante with more upfront melodies and a clompy rhythm that is the epitomy of cruising around with the windows down. The last 3 and a half minutes alone could be one of the best electronic pop tracks that I've heard this year.
If I can find any faults with the disc, it's that some of the latter tracks on the release run on a smidge too long, but when you're speaking of a release like this, that's kind of a minor quibble. "I Think We Can Kinetic" tosses a touch of grime with some slightly harsher filters on the beats, but the melodies just don't grab as well as the earlier tracks while "Your Heart Is Your Compass" develops just a bit too slowly over the course of over 7 minutes. Mitchell knows to close things on a hands-down winner, though, and although some might find "Do You Know That Love Can End?" a little fluffy, it's another little electronic pop gem that shows off his subtle musical touch in mixing vocals, numerous keyboard melodies, and an unobtrusive beat. The strings that make an entrance about halfway through add yet another nice layer to the already lush track. If you're a fan of anything on the Morr label or either of the artists mentioned above, this disc is a must-have. One of those little gems that showed-up out of nowhere, it's one to check out.