Kim Ki O, Grounds, Lentonia Records
On first song ‘Dogs’ from Kim Ki O‘s fourth full-length album Grounds (out March 4th in Europe and 9th April in the US ) a voice states: “All we’ve ever been interested in doing is making a record which encapsulates a mood and a time.” Congratulations Ekin Sanaç (synths, keys, vocals, beats) and Berna Göl (bass, vocals, beats), that is exactly what you have done!
Compared to their previous albums, the sound quality found on Grounds is a revelation, finally lending the necessary crispness and thoughtful handling of Kim Ki O’s aesthetic a welcome helping hand. The mixing is superb, playing with vocalization versus instrumental backdrop, combining the two nearly making them part of the same instrument, resulting in a compellingly cohesive whole.
‘Insane Insan’ (‘Human Human’) feels like the 2013 answer to Stereolab‘s ‘Les Yper Sound’ projected over time and space. ‘William Chisholm’ utilizes a fine, nimble build-up in electro-synth tempo, featuring vocals bouncing back and forth through the course of this expansive track. In addition to the sense of feeling grounded in current life situations, this record also tackles themes of urban plight that living in a massive city like Istanbul brings to the forefront. Living in a large, metropolitan landscape it is nearly impossible to not be confronted with various manifestations of selfishness and inequality. This can be hard imagery to digest. In the brilliant, ‘Şiddet Kin Ve Yük’ (‘Violence, Grudge, and Burden’), soothing yet assertive vocals with a subdued bass and keys resembling tubular bells serve as an objective counterpoint to the subject matter at hand.
The duo have described ‘Grounds’ as being a record centered around the idea of finding the grounding within your own life. It serves as something of a departure as well as a stealthy arrival. The pair have known one another since high school, and now faced with the prospect of turning thirty, have discovered (in their own words) “things definitely start to make more sense as you turn 30…”. ‘Grounds’ serves as the musical backdrop to this at times daunting – yet exciting – transitional time period.
At the end of album closer ‘Yer Tearisi’ (‘Ground Theory’), driving beat and strident keys result in an uplifting march towards the future – whatever that ubiquitous place may be. The build-up and crescendo take the listener by the hand, and conveys a sense of overcoming ones’ fears in order to strive towards a more perfect inner strength and forgiveness.