AU ABROAD

Album Review: kyü- kyü 2 (2012 LP)

As the play button is pushed, the album eases into life with lingering, harmonious female voices weaving in and out of a veil of tinkling percussion. This percussion builds into a structured rhythm, signalling the start of the second track and the introduction of piano to the suddenly playful voices and expanding soundscape. It’s only the second song and yet I’m already utterly beguiled by kyü’s ethereal experimental pop. It’s joyous, inventive, chaotic, intimate and yet huge.

This is pop shorn of its usual drudgery and left to wander naked in vast soundscapes. Visceral percussion lends an almost primitive feel that starkly contrasts with the flowing and digital textures in the background of each song. The album is also a mix of contradictory elements, with improvisation playing off against structure. In the soaring, thunderous ‘Squint’ structure rules whilst the shifting textures and blissful lyrics of ‘Samsara’ feel utterly natural and devoid of typical restrictions.

The pair’s intertwined voices, their knack for atmospheric soundscape arrangment and note-perfect intricate percussion form the beating heart of the album. Whether it’s the off-kilter closing melody line of ‘Scratch Piano’ building out of a dream-like wash of vocal murmurings and warm electronic tones or the unbridled bouncy happiness of ‘Yuk’, the album swallows your attention utterly until the final dreamlike note. With the sombre strings, mellow chanting and wistful textures cocooning the final track ‘Arasmus’, it’s a stirring farewell for the duo who announced their split with the release of just their second album.

Review Score: 9.3 out of 10