KMRU: Glim Album Review | Pitchfork

KMRU Album 2020 Peel it was a formidable addition to the long list of great electronic albums released on the Editions Mego label. The grim six-track release established the Nairobi-born, Berlin-based artist (also known as Joseph Kamaru) as one of the most exciting young talents in ambient music almost overnight. But even though he’s only been releasing music for a little over five years, Peel it was just one point in the arc of a prolific career that includes fiery collaborations, ambitious meditations on colonial violence, and cryptic Bandcamp exclusives that arrive with little context. Smile is the latest and one of the longest of the latter, its intentions hidden behind a handful of cryptic one-word titles and a lurid photograph by Berlin’s Claudia Mock showing reeds along a shoreline that can only be seen dimly glimpse in the dark.

That photo is the most useful key to unlocking the depths of Smile: The ocean may appear white and lifeless from above, but it hides countless ecosystems. Similarly, though Smile At first it sounds like an austere experiment in pure drone, the mix is ​​impregnated with human sounds that can escape the ear on a first listen. The sound of children playing on the opening track “motley” is easy to make out, minus the click of a camera for about a minute and a half or the sound of a car speeding up in “line”. Kamaru has never been flashy with field recordings; he weaves them into the fabric of his music rather than using everyday sounds as ready-made signifiers, but he says it’s “very intentional when I record and why I’m recording space.” Knowing there’yes an intention behind Kamaru’s choice of source material, no matter how dark, deepens the intrigue.

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In opposition to the vast and rainy desolation of Peel or the soothing sounds of last year Epochglow it is prickly and ominous, rarely straying from minor keys. Kamaru likes fragmented distortion that makes his music sound like it’s echoing from the broken speakers of a Game Boy Advance, and he likes drones that are damaged or sawed off in some way. Interference in “tension” might prompt listeners to check their headphones; on “its”, an oscillator that speeds up and slows down distorts the linear sense of time implicit in the impassive glacial advance of the piece. Instead of the satisfied happiness that Kamaru invoked in Epoch, Glim it delivers bleak, even menacing soundscapes that bristle with the possibility of danger, as if a predator lurks nearby, unseen.

Smile sounds monolithic at first but opens up to reveal cracks and details. If played in the background, the complexity of the music will likely be lost as the sounds of everyday life mix with field recordings in the mix. A more concentrated effort is required to capture all the details, but giving Smile all your attention can be an exhausting experience. It’s too bewildering to let yourself sink and lose yourself. It doesn’t have the detailed enough texture to provide some kind of psychedelic brain massage. And given its length—12 tracks in 56 minutes, all fading in and out as if at random—it never really holds a mood for long. Smile It’s like an abstract painting that rewards being looked at from all angles, but no matter how much you squint, its secrets are hidden from view.

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