KAI: 22 Months
Faded Music

That 22 Months is an intensely personal album for Australian drum'n'bass producer Kane Aaron Ivory (KAI) is confirmed by quotes accompanying his debut full-length collection. “I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even in death,” states Ivory. “They continue to participate in every act, thought, and decision we make.” Though what exactly the man has experienced in recent days isn't specified (the sombre, piano- and strings-laden meditation “Song For Beau” might be a clue), it's obviously left a deep mark. But as heavy as his heart might be, the album itself isn't a lugubrious affair; the evidence suggests that rather than let the music be weighed down by personal pain, he's channeled it creatively into the album's production.

22 Months may be his debut album, but Ivory's been releasing material for about a decade and has appeared during that time on labels such as Peer Pressure, Basswerk, Violation Music, Broken Trax, and, of course, Faded Music. KAI's music is definitely rooted in drum'n'bass, but the balance on 22 Months is such that there's as much attention devoted to atmosphere and sound design as beatmaking. Ivory fills the air with all manner of evocative noise, whether it be garbled alien vocalizations (“In-Motion”) or a werewolf-like creature salivating in anticipation of some imminent kill (“Forgive”); an electric guitar even finds its way into the Western-styled twang of “Step Forward.”

“Unite” and “Not Sure Where” writhe with as much lethal, dread-filled purpose as a coal-black breakcore cut, but not everything's so dark: with its turntable swizzle and bright piano details, “Untold” veritably oozes positivity, and, with marimba and Miss Alexandra's smooth vocal added to the mix, “No Real Goodbye” accentuates drum'n'bass's sultry side. A lot of ground's covered in the album's seventeen rollers, from the expected belters to collaborations with Future Engineers and label boss Fade. Other genres seep into the material on occasion, among them jungle, hip-hop, and tribal funk, and grooves, by turn kinetic and furious, are in plentiful supply on this eclectic outing.

May 2016