Kinkajous - Being Waves (Album Review)
17 September 2021
Album Rating 4/5
Solo Performances 4.5/5
Diversity in Songs 3.5/5
Favourite Songs It Blooms / Then Nothing, NOOMS, Still (Drifts)
Being Waves is an album of spacey jazz, orchestral richness and electronic colours. It’s the second full album from Kinkajous after 2019’s Hidden Lines.
The music is taken into more cinematic directions, with lush string sections and glittering melodic lines. The album’s orchestral elements meet its jazz core in a finely crafted package. The production of the album feels like it's been stepped up a gear since Hidden Lines with a greater focus on sonic richness.
The band itself consist of a fine list of names from London’s ever-thriving jazz scene with Benoît Parmentier as drummer and producer, Adrien Cau leading the melodic lines on sax and clarinet, Jack Doherty on synths, Maria-Chiara Argirò on keys and Andres Castellanos on bass.
On their socials, Benoît and Adrien stated:
"The making of this record, although challenging, felt so liberating and meaningful. We’ve been questioning for some time what we wanted to say with our music - this album feels like we’ve touched on something important and truly found our voice".
"It was born out of an identity crisis of sorts, years of friendship, growth and drunken chats in the streets of Florence. Listening back to it this morning, it’s packed with emotions, bright but also with a certain darkness, immense, intimate."
The album opens with Parmentier’s ripple-like drums and synth drones on ‘Convolution’, a haunting and beautiful piece that ascends as it goes on through rhythmic fragmentations. Adrien Cau’s sax chimes throughout and Maria-Chiara Argirò’s keys drift in and out.
‘It Blooms / Then Nothing’ has a similar feel. A nest of strings sit embedded throughout the other instruments and the groove weaves around. The latter stage of the track brings in a broken piece of electronica before returning to a percussive groove.
‘NOOMS’ was one of my favourite tracks on the record. Gorgeous synths play in dialogue with oceanic piano chords in a wonderful acoustic-electronic hybrid. Adrien Cau leads the lead line on the clarinet.
‘Cloaks’ brings the sound back from a slow ambience to a walking groove.
Adrien Cau and Benoît Parmentier reflect on Being Waves as being "the result of a deep-dive trying to unfold layers of realities. An attempt to play with our own beliefs, our own illusions."
The album follows motifs of freeing expansion with nice electronic moments to add extra colour.
The latter half of the album arrives with the track ‘The Eyes’. It has a cinematic opening that evolves into a groove reminiscent of Kamasi Washington with string calls atop a walking percussion.
‘A Quiet Chaos’ was a more ambient track, similar to ‘NOOMS’, with a nice throbbing synth and long, drawn-out notes from keys and clarinet.
My favourite aspects of the album were its textural diversity and seamless transitions from synth-drone ambience to jazz grooves where moments of muggy soundscapes become melodic clarity, like coming out of fog.
‘System’ captured these juxtaposing textures for me, with moments of synth chords transcending into a sax-led jazz routine.
The last two tracks of the album, ‘Still (Drifts)’ and ‘Those Real’ were two very strong tracks that kept the album’s overall tone in place. ‘Still (Drifts)’ shows off some lovely percussion from Benoît Parmentier and ‘Those Real’ captures the consistent quality production of the album, with a delightful bass line from Andres Castellanos to see it off.
The album ends with a sudden stop on ‘Those Real’, forcing a reflective silence after the wonderful music.
Being Waves is a fantastic sequel to Hidden Lines with cinematic colouring, electronic flourishes and moments that flit between ambience and jazz euphoria. It shows off the virtuosity of the musicians and the quality of the album’s production.
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