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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KIKAI: Labor (2011)

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Kiki's Labor is an album filled by soft rhythms à la Software which are trapped by the cosmic fragrances of Jean Michel Jarre

1 Past 5:26

2 Hope 4:38

3 Chant 4:20

4 Thunder and Love 5:11

5 Wish 5:55

6 Transparent Dreams 5:46

7 Turn 5:16

8 Seahorses 8:06

9 Winter 7:51

10 Decent 4:24

11 Gates 6:40

12 Relief (Tribute to Japan) 6:48

13 (Tribute to) Japan 5:01

(DDL 75:30) (V.F.) (E-Rock)

Kikai, for ocean of energy, is a musical project by Marius C. Hammerich which seems strongly inspired by the Teutonic rhythms of Software and by the intergalactic atmospheres of Jean-Michel Jarre. And Kikai isn't exactly a new player on the EM chessboard. It's since 2005 that Marius C. Hammerich has composed an EM which serves the cause of humanitarian works. Distributed by the independent label Kikai Kikagu, his music is also available on several download platforms and the profits are donated to various charities. LABOR is his first album on a major label, SynGate, and contains a variety of melodies settled in approaches of the 80's New Berlin School with light but catchy rhythms which jostle with cosmic atmospheres.

It's precisely with electronic cosmic tones shaped in the memories of the galactic works of Software that Past titillates our eardrums. The rhythm is fluid and clings to sober percussions which lost their strikes with the jumps of limpid sequences. The rhythmic universe of Kikai is full of tones that arouse the hearing. Here, it's duck tones which cackle in mute, adding a psychotronic depth to a lunar down-tempo where is hiding a tender melodious approach with synth solos whose cosmic charms float on a carpet of sequences and percussions with strikes and tones equally diverse than arrhythmic. Hope is more experimental with a very ethereal atmospheric approach. A soft piano strikes its notes in an ambience frozen in heterogeneous tones where the synths moan like badly caressed guitars, merging their abandonments in a nice morphic melody which blows its charms on a bed of riffs and sequences swarming with a rhythmic life parallel. Vocals follow Hope's harmonic curve. The synth divides its wandering melodies into rich streaks of angelic voices which chant on a rhythm whose movements struggle to whirl in a broth of cosmic effects à la JM Jarre. Morphic and twirling like a carousel, Thunder and Love makes swirl its delicate rhythmic riffs in vapors of ether. Intriguing with its breaths of perdition and its voices that harass tranquility, the synth infuses this track, as well as the whole of LABOR, of a fascinating cosmic/poetic aura which bewitches with its JM Jarre influences and tones. Wish amazes with its sequences in the tones of woodpecker strikes that go on hollow wood. The rhythm is strange. It slams of everywhere, gauging the shape to take with its dull pulsations and murky reverberations. It looks like a dark, hesitant walk on a Halloween night with imperfect hopping zigzagging in wide semicircles under not really inviting synth solos. It's a very good atmospheric title which manages to pick up its sequences and pulsations in order to create a more coherent rhythm. Listen at a good volume and headphones to capture its full dimension!

Transparent Dreams continues this dissection of JMJarre's influences on Kikai's music with tones of extraterrestrials and voices from outer spaces whispering in an absolute void. The rhythm unfolds vaguely with a good bass line whose chords subtly blend into the meshes of a progressive rhythmic sequence. The solos struggle to pierce all this sound opacity. The strident cries are lost in the mists of Orion, preventing a latent rhythm from blossoming, just like in the very magnetic Seahorses; a long morphic and seraphic ballet which struggles to climb its intense cosmic veil. Turn bathes in an intense melancholy broth with a furtive rhythmic approach which drowns its uncertain sequences in tearful synth strata full of orchestral tears. Another harmonic phase emerges from this grip of sadness with sequences that snap in the winds of weeping solos. And the more it goes, the more heartbreaking it gets! Totally atmospheric, Winter disperses its weak pulsations, its futuristic beeps and its riffs in the psychotronic lava of a synth with lamentations and ghostly twists have a hint of winter. Concerto for lost voice in a lost rhythm, Decent shelters its slow harmonies which drag like lost souls. The contrast of tones and rhythms is quite captivating. Gates immerses us in Teutonic rhythms à la Software with a string of sequences whirling in a hypnotic glass carousel under a sky obstructed by dense synth layers. Their twisted solos get unfold on percussions which abandon their sober strikes to become gradually stormy. Relief (Tribute to Japan) offers an approach imbued of sadness with ghost sequences which wander with a fear of disturbing. Water bubbles explode here and there, bringing a dimension of an arcade game to a title that quietly emerges from its melancholy embryo to offer a soft electronic ballad where the echo of riffs are waltzing in the scents of lyrical solos exhilarating of nostalgic hues. Ocean waves, funeral bells and audio reports furnish the apocalyptic backdrop of Tribute to Japan which scrolls through our ears like a cloud of desolation on a land forever shattered.

Sweet melodies which flow on light rhythms, LABOR is a nice album of an EM that will certainly please to fans of Software in its post Chip-Meditation period. Marius C. Hammerich excels in the art of surrounding his compositions with a sound fauna that makes the ears get wider. It's beautiful and ear-catching with one downside; the titles end in a sometimes too abrupt fade out. So, what makes headphones so charming is also an annoyance that can offend some ears ...

Sylvain Lupari (October 29th, 2012) ***½**

Available at Kikai Bandcamp

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