Kiln – meadow:watt (2013)

In these waning Autumn months with a bleak and record breaking Winter supposedly on the horizon, and the last dregs of the year’s music slowly dribbling away, it’s nice to have something warm and cozy to pass these darkening days with: enter meadow:watt. Kiln have, I assume, been making the same vein of gauzy, bleary IDM inspired Ambient music for the past 15 years; after all, this latest release sounds very similar to the tones they established in 2004’s Sunbox and I have it on good authority that it also sounds close to their previous album of 6 years ago Dusker. Nothing wrong with that of course, fans of Kiln’s sound I’m sure will be thrilled to hear they remain unchanged and Ghostly is holding onto the tatters of its old roster.

“Roil” opens this 52 minute affair with little pomp; carefully placed flutters of electronica zip through the mix whilst rolling synths form the intrinsic core of the piece. There isn’t much to say in regards to the melody, it’s relatively sedentary, cruising in and out of focus, slipping through the cracks before becoming coherent again. It’s a gently rolling piece that isn’t interested in moving from A to B, it’s kind of content to just brush the edges and walk around in circles, slowly picking up the pace as it does so. “Pinemartin” unfolds with a little more grace than the chirpy, glitchy intro piece; the tempo is calmed and soft flutes call out like birdsong in this surprisingly organic track. There’s an intimacy in the music as the acoustic guitars croon groovily a little later in the maturing daylight of the track; it has the same closeness and height and hidden depths of a forest.

“Star.field” strips away the scale and scope of the previous tracks and tightens down on a more sparse electronic landscape. Its minimalistic bass grinds segue into gradually enveloping percussive knocks and shimmies but it’s one of the weaker tracks of the album for me. It’s a bit too thin, and the paucity of its evolution is a deal breaker for me. Ok, the closing minute does bring in some really beautiful drone swarms floating round our heads but that’s about it. Juxtapose this with perhaps one of the finer tracks of this album, “Willowbrux”, and you’ve got some redemption I suppose. Heavily processed guitar strokes and ethereal synth drones float lazily through the air before kicking up a bit of a groove and getting the show on the road again. Those echoic drums and the delicate piano sided with deliberately flat and strongly electronic wobbles make this a Yin vs Yang battle and it’s fucking luxurious as it peaks and troughs gradually, effortlessly. It’s a lazy day in the garden, fighting the guilty urge to go do some work or revision.

We shift gears once more as we return to the itchy, insatiable syncopated electronica of “KopperKosmo”. Like all its predecessors it has its initial cruise stage where it slowly builds its textural complexity up, hits a trough somewhere just beyond the middle of the piece where melodies are stripped back to the bare bones for 30 seconds and then it takes off again in the final phase as it piles the tape looped glitches and beats on top of one another in this red shifting smear before its very fabric becomes undone and it reverses, pulling itself apart and slowing to a dreamy, blurry finish. “Moth and Moon” has a very sensual, twilight by the sea kind of atmosphere going on in its kitsch, infrequent processed violins, crackling record player backdrop and warped, reverbed guitar. It’s the slow sway of the dune grass on a warm night, the crackling noise the gritty sand beneath your fingers and the delicate instrumentation the warm air and softly lapping waves.

“Jux” is a nice, light and more importantly short movement into the last two tracks of the album; at a mere 3:32 it clocks in at around half the time of the average track here and it’s a welcome interlude. Jovial, distorted synth riffs dominate the skyline in this one, bouncing along merrily, full of life and spirit after our sojourn last night, and it moves pretty much perfectly into my favourite track “Acre”. All that pent up excitement and eager energy is unraveled as we return to the garden or perhaps even fields, given how spacious and bold it sounds. Flangers wobble our simple melody cheekily, little skips in the step, whilst a nice, flat, unobtrusive drum beat keeps the whole thing ticking over. But much like a child it begins to lose some of its strength and becomes a little calmer and dominated by guitar drones in the latter half, although there’s a cheeky buried riff still eager and enthusiastic under it all.

“Boro” is finally here to see us out, and with it brings a strikingly simple but repetitive melody filled with harmonious flute notes singing out amidst churning percussion and distal merry-go-round synths. It’s that beautifully nostalgic final track that takes a sweeping glance back at the day or the week or the timespan of our little holiday, that moment of peace we have as we travel home and get to contemplate those great, new, fresh memories we’ve just made, cementing them for future reference.  And then it fades away, our perfect break over until the next time. It really is a welcome album to have this time of year, a nice warm and cosy album to get you thinking of all those exciting and memorable moments just around the corner, or remembering those of this year now waning. I like this a lot, a real late-in-the-year contender; it just tickles all those IDM and old-Ghostly sensibilities I have with its mesmerising simplicity.

 

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