Netlabelism Review – Al Kemet by Ketsa

With this kind of compositional talent, natural understanding of harmony, and a flare for fluent instrumental writing, what is to stop him being the next Cinematic Orchestra?

Invisible Agent” is Warren Daly’s marvellous contribution to the net audio scene. Over time, himself and Donard McCabe have created quite an astonishing collection of releases, podcasts, reviews, and mixes, and very recently threw their doors open even wider by enabling us regular internet-folk to obtain pretty much all of their back catalogue for free (on the Creative Commons license, of course). Pretty nice thing to do, especially given the quality contained within those precious zip files.

The newest album at Invisible Agent records is Al Kernet by Ketsa. It is fantastic. And long, too. Most releases barely reach ten tracks these days, and it is nice to see a traditional ‘LP’ length which oozes hard work and dedication as well as consistency. London-based Dominic Giam (Ketsa) is an unquestionably talented guy. From the first couple of tracks, his gracious musicianship and compositional skills are obvious, and paired with an aptitude for mixing and sound manipulation makes for a wonderful combo. Guitar-based chord structures are blessed with tasteful beats and careful glitches, in what is largely trip-hop, but possessing a refreshing edge on most downtempo electronica.

There is a distinct purity to this exotic multi-dimensional sound, which is presented with effortless clarity. He does not hide behind anything; the ideas and sounds are raw, but expertly mixed and delivered with style. ‘Separation’ sprouts from your speakers, and almost made me feel like I had inhaled a big wiff of Olbas oil. The quaint piano melodics here are a little too quantised for my liking, but have such an elegant nature that this can be excused. And the percussion! A great example of real freedom to experiment, whilst also managing to compliment and decorate the strong melodic ideas. By far my favourite of the album. So much so, it deserves its own preview…

‘Calcination’ introduces a glitchy-dubby side, very much trip-time. It’s a bit like audible salvia. ‘Comixtion’, with its meek and submissive chord sequence, is such a cute follow up. ‘Inbibition’ is just the right side of nasty (which is difficult to achieve), which amazed me how so many gurgling glitchy noises can be contributory to something so divine. The mesmerising guitar parts and spiralling melodies in ‘Fixation’ almost had me falling off my chair with dizziness. And the great thing is, the five aforementioned tracks are so tastefully different to each other; fruitful variety whilst establishing a distinct individuality. It’s the sign of a very skilled artist indeed.

I have a strong suspicion that Ketsa has the musical world at his feet. With this kind of compositional talent, natural understanding of harmony, and a flare for fluent instrumental writing, what is to stop him being the next Cinematic Orchestra? Or the next Jaga Jazzist? This album was a great pleasure to listen to as it  has magnificent depth and such varied musical qualities. Ninja Tune has missed out on a valuable contribution to their artist roster here (so far…).

View original review by simioliolio - Netlabelism

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