We’ve got a particularly tasty selection of Planet Mu goodies to give away to one lucky Juno Plus reader, as well as tickets to their forthcoming label showcase at London’s XOYO.
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Amid an ever-swelling tide of praise and adulation well ahead of its release, Severant comes loaded with all kinds of expectations and curiosities to be answered. While this never does the music itself any favours, what is quite astounding is that within the two short minutes that host the first track, those expectations dissipate as effortlessly as they arrived.
Opener “Visioning Shared Tomorrows” is nothing if not celebratory, as a synthesiser fanfare rings out with all the mist and wonder that the unknown future may or may not hold. It sounds like a vague way to interpret the emotion held within a track, but it neatly sets the tone for where Severant will be heading over its duration; an opening theme if you will.
There’s no escaping the echoes of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream all over the tracks, because the synthesisers that hold centre stage at all times come straight from that school of laconic and melancholic warbles. However sources of inspiration fade to insignificance against the kind of heartfelt composition that has gone into Severant. “Whisper Fate” is achingly beautiful in its delicacy and progression, while “Scissors” transcends that point even more archly by re-employing the hook from Carly Simon’s heartbreak classic “Why?”
While the synths may be the stars of the shows, the beats are no slackers either. The drum machine hits are crisp and clean, but intricately arranged to add their own emotional weight where required. In one instance you may have a lean and simple half-step rhythm which then erupts in a manic flurry of hat triggering as on “Truth Flood”. Rather than serving any notion of groove, here percussion and rhythm are the tools with which Kuedo sculpts his grand story.
The sound sources remain consistent throughout, and in doing so create a cohesive feel to the album (an end Kuedo was definitely aiming for, as revealed in his interview with Juno Plus). Likewise, the generally short length of the tracks adds to the overall feel of a filmless score, as different incidentals of mood and feeling meld into one whole.
“I think everyone’s got a folk music album in them.” So comments Jamie Teasdale, only half-jokingly, as we talk about his current musical guise and what else he or any other musician may be capable of. “Kuedo itself is still a project name and as much heart as I try and pour into it, it still has its own life and identity,” he continues. “People have a potentiality to work in different forms and musical devices. There are so many aspects to a human being and it’s ridiculous to turn it down to one or a couple of genres and say ‘that’s me’.”
After the seductive, haunting tones of the Waiting For You LP, a full album’s worth of recreations of King Midas Sound from a barrage of powerhouse knob-twiddlers was always going to be an exciting prospect. Ahead of the Without You release, Hyperdub slip out this taster 12” to whet the appetite, and there’s few fans of the space Kode9’s label inhabits that won’t be salivating over these two versions alone.
With his own album twitching at the gates ready to be unleashed on Planet Mu, Kuedo brings his synth-laden delirium to “Goodbye Girl”. The former Vex’d man starts proceedings on a tart melodic line that is quickly underpinned by some monolithic bass tones. The somewhat mournful quality of the original manages to pervade the day-glo nature of the tools Kuedo employs, acting as just the right counterbalance to make for a bombastic slice of emotive beat music.
Mala, unsurprisingly, opts for a bleak, dread-fuelled take on “Earth A Kill Ya”, and does so to great effect for one of his most striking efforts in recent times. A menacing, drawn out intro peppered with ghostly tones kicks into gear with a minimum of fuss over a persistent sub stab. With typical flair, Mala lets an occasional lick lifted from a reggae track shed the briefest ray of light into the track before the creepy synth hook takes things back into the dark again. If you appreciate music written to conjure up demons then this has everything you need.