KK Telescopes – music reviews

Some recent reviews of KK’s new album ‘Telescopes’ :

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It’s not often you get to listen to an album you just don’t want to end… well, this is the case with KK’s new album “Telescopes,” which is as cosmic and lyrical album as I’ve heard in a long time.KK has worked with the likes of Eno and Bjork, so he brings us his music from high up. Pianos flicker, synthesizers rustle, percussion tinkles, strings swell, and over all this KK himself speaks and sings, sounding remarkably like Green of Scritti Politti.

Many of these songs drift and sigh like The Beloved in interstellar space. The story is of the vast number of planets, stars and galaxies in our universe, a tale told with a real sense of melody and emotive underlying chords. Wonderful stuff.

Some songs (for example “Pale Blue Dot” and the swoonsome “Dust”) feature female vocals also. Mixed into one too-short album, this work deserves real success. So, I didn’t want this one to end. So I played it once again…

Terrascopic

Terrascopic.co.uk

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Clearly not one to sell himself short, KK proclaims himself a “21st Century Genius” and although the name may not be familiar to many his CV boasts work with such diverse artists as Bjork, Eno and Britney Spears. ‘Telescopes’ is very much his own work though and it’s a journey through space, time and continents, largely based on electronic music.

Dispensing astrological wisdom, KK also knows how to write music that is attractive and listenable. ‘Magic Spell’ and ‘Voyager’ are made up of serene instrumental parts whilst ‘Pale Blue Dot’ takes the dreamlike state one step further with a beautiful sequence of synth melodies. Here, the journey of space exploration makes perfect sense.

Further on in the album, ‘Codebreaker’ mixes Eastern mysticism with beats and KK’s own Green Gartside-like singing. KK comes unstuck the more inflated his ego seems to get; ‘Ancestor Simulation’, for example, begins with the noirish atmosphere of a detective story before collapsing into a bombastic arrangement which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Riverdance’.

KK has created a concept album which flows nicely; capturing the ideas of an artist who has clearly learned from the vast range of talent he has collaborated with in the past.

Leonards Lair

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The press release says that he’s a technical wizard who has worked with master technical geeks Brian Eno and Bjork. Press releases are sometimes dubious, but after hearing the album, it’s pretty clear that this guy is a technical geek first-class.The mixing, instrumentals and sound effects are some of the most dazzling displays I’ve heard.

This a sci-fi concept album with plenty of geeky lyrics, and it sounds a lot like David Bowie’s 21st century masterpiece Heathen. (Apologies to anyone who wanted to know what the concept is about. I’m not that interested in deciphering it… I haven’t even gotten around to trying to figure out what Thick as a Brick was about.) There are so many colorful ideas and instrumental developments jam-packed in relatively short tracks that it’s insane. Amazingly so, these wild, unpredictable developments are so well-done that most of these tracks hold together very well.

Take “Dust” for instance. It’s just four minutes long, and it’s as though he worked pretty extensively on exploring different atmospheres and textures to fit in there. It’s really fun to listen to. “Magic Spell” is a masterpiece! If you’re a sucker for dream-pop/shoegazing stuff, it’s worth going out of your way to hear it. It’s one of the album’s most wild examples of this scatter-brained instrumental development, plus I adore that intoxicating, sort of atonal groove that pops up every once in awhile. Really nice stuff!

“Andromeda” is a fun, cinematic instrumental that sounds like a Starship Troopers battle piece. “Ancestor Simulation” is also a sort of cinematic song, with an obvious Asian influence. The ties to world music gives it a cool, exotic flavor. We can also pick up on some Indian influences in a pair of back-to-back songs “Infinity” and “Codebreaker.”

KK brought his head out of the fishbowl, briefly, to deliver a relatively normal song called “Paradise Found.”, a very pleasant ballad with a rather gorgeous, earthly atmosphere. The repetitive melody is fine, and has enough staying power to keep it sounding fresh for the whole five minutes. The first 30 seconds of “Pale Blue Dot” is excellent and earns second-place to “Magic Spell.” It’s based on four chords, which really raises a sort of mystical atmosphere… and of course, the highly developed instrumentation standards intensifies that emotion.

It’s really exciting for me to get an early look at this talent with a fresh debut album, and there’s a lot of promise. The geeky lyrics are definitely cool and cheesy (the way they were meant to be), and I was really dazzled by a lot of this.

Track by track highlights:

Dewdrop

This is a one-minute instrumental (although there is some vocalizations … though they were seemingly altered by a computer). A mid-range twinkly piano plays some scales while some synthesizer orchestrations pick up dramatically. It was designed to give us that outer space feel, which I think it did rather well. It makes an impression despite the short running length.

Dust

Listen to that technology! This guy really knows how to work those computers! This is a sort of spaced-out extravaganza with so many instrumental ideas packed into such a small amount of space that it’s almost jarring. I don’t dare count how many different sorts of instruments that can be heard throughout this… it’s like counting dust, I guess. Amazingly, these instrumental sections come in and out almost at random, and it doesn’t sound so incredibly awkward. You’re walking a dangerous line when you want to clutter up your songs with music, because usually it just sounds cluttered. But this is pretty fun to listen to.

Magic Spell

This is definitely worth listening to! It’s a lot like “Dust” except the ideas are even more extravagant, and the technology is about as dazzling as it gets. What’s more, the harmonies pass the test this time with flying colors. When the song first plays, we’re treated to an intoxicating, sort of atonal groove… and what ensues can only be described as “some really weird stuff.” It’s fun to listen to, also. Once again, there’s so many instruments and ideas that it’s impossible to count them…

Andromeda

I guess this would be a space military march, or something. Once again, this really sounds great. It’s not quite as busy as “Dust” or “Magic Spell” (and therefore, I guess, not as dizzying). But it’s still quite impressive in the technological front. We have a typical militaristic drum beat, and slow build-ups of different instruments. Notably, some Medieval-sounding vocals. This is fairly typical for something in any movie soundtrack, except I really like that wildly bending operatic soprano and I suppose that cool, sci-fi bass-line. Paradise Found
Hey, this is almost a normal song. And he’s even pretty good when he decides to go down this route. This is mostly a piano pop tune with a few guitars and light synthesizers added to the mix. The sound effects are brought to a surprising minimum! The melody isn’t so much hooky, but earthly. Nicely done!

Pale Blue Dot

The beginning is really mystical, thanks in part to a simple but effective harmonies, which raises the alien feeling of it. The sound effects, of course, are the whole point of the song. Those radio voices at the beginning were really cool, coupled with the atmospheric instrumentation. Crunch This is another one of those weird spacey songs that consists of cheesy spoken dialogue and funny synthesizers. It’s a little more “out-there” than “Sol 3,” not to mention longer. Bringing in those synthesized choir in the middle was great. This is the sort of thing you’d probably get at a planetarium show. (The final third is a dead-ringer for that.)

Michael Lawrence

Don Ignacio’s Music Reviews

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to buy or find out more about KK’s Telescopes visit www.kktelescopes.com

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