Scene and Heard – CCLXXI : Pry – Major of Roses (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

23376142_292236467942997_1597477921029238499_nRight from the off there is something of Bowie’s Blackstar vibe at the heart of this second single from Major of Roses. Not perhaps in the vocals, here they fall into deeper and more resonant realms, but the dark minimalism, the poignancy of the lyricism and the general brooding nature of the piece. It revels in melancholy without plunging into misery, it is reflective rather than self-pitying, is heartfelt rather than heart-aching.

Built out of the most plaintive and sparing of piano lines, a sparse beat and a few surrounding sonic details such as distant synth lines and occasional vocal accompanying harmonies, it frames the vocals brilliantly, allowing the rich baritone to be most effective. It revels in space and atmospherics, anticipation and understatement, things which seem rare in the modern musical world, Pry being the perfect antidote to the bombastic and cluttered pop that we are subjected to on a daily basis.

It is a song confident enough in its own skin to take its time, which revels in restraint and underplay, often as interested in what is happening between the notes as the sounds themselves. It is a song built around space, carefully crafted sounds creating a sonic wake as it builds ambient landscapes of meditative post-pop. It is also a song you could describe as unique, and beautiful, haunting, ambient and otherworldly, built through seamless and graceful musical lines and leaves the listener to join dots. This is music as suggestion rather than direction, neither leading nor following but happier to follow its own meandering instincts.

The best music is found in a place that has no need for pigeon-holes and labels, and Major of Roses is happy to make music which wilfully subverts the listeners expectations and journalistic labelling. Genres? Who needs them?

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A Room of Ones Own –  Kini (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Kini - A Room of One's Own (cover).jpgThere is a wonky charm and disjointed wonderment that threads its way through I Too Overflow, the single that paves the way for the soon to be released album A Room Of Ones Own, a beguiling sound that is at odds with the songs subject matter. Songs about the pressures to conceal and conform so that the floodgates of fear, anger and frustration don’t spill out for all to see usually take suitably bombastic form. The genius of Kini is that she explores this territory via gentle and quirky pop, or perhaps post-pop, which wanders between ethereality and oddness. Dudu (Play) that it comes coupled with, explores the pressure to compartmentalise ourselves in order to face the world with an acceptable front, again taking a very understated musical approach.

As a calling card for the album these two songs are perfect, showcasing Kini’s ability to express deep thoughts and explore the modern psyche whilst using wonderfully off kilter music as a vehicle. It is pop of sorts but pop for the thinker, pop for those who want to be made to react, pop that doesn’t play by the rules, pop looking for new musical frontiers. It is deconstructed music, sometimes only just hanging together in a form that you could call a song, more usually following its own blueprints, or perhaps none at all.

Kal in particular is a mercurial beast, always feeling as if it is just about to come together as a song but tantalisingly never quite meeting the listeners expectations. But if music always met our expectations how would it evolve? And to counter Kal’s clipped and curious noises, Rimay drifts through on a haze of industrial echos and Nuna has the disembodied feeling of a song being channelled from deep space or heard through the filter of a thick wall, with only certain frequencies carrying through to the listener.

Kini is an interesting prospect and A Room of Ones Own is a remarkable collection of songs. What you have to admire is an artist who knows that her own musical vision will appeal to a very discerning and niche audience but persues it anyway, an artist who knows that they could make life easier on themselves but also that honesty is the best policy. And Kini’s music is honesty. It is also strange, beguiling, wonderful, challenging, risky and exploratory but honesty is where it all begins.

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