KILN: meadow:watt
Ghostly International

Talk about a low profile—KILN makes Thomas Pynchon look like the worst kind of media whore. But hopefully the group's publicity-shy reticence won't get in the way of listeners finding out about KILN's third full-length for Ghostly International. Truth be told, the new release doesn't sound all that much different than the earlier ones (2004's Sunbox and 2007's Dusker) and even the cover image plays like a variation on an earlier theme, but such things hardly matter when meadow:watt retains the instantly identifiable sound signature Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison, and Clark Rehberg III have been refining since the group's 1993 formation. Once again we're presented with exquisite soundsculpting, in this case nine settings, and don't call them ambient settings, by the way: there's far too much dub-wise rhythmic heft in these multi-coloured mirages for that label to meaningfully apply.

Headphones are truly necessary for the music's textural richness to be appreciated. In a given track, sounds sourced from guitars, piano, drums, keyboards, and field recordings weave into enveloping electronic panoramas of incredible detail and density. And it's worth noting that while KILN's music is marked by depth and sophistication, it's neither difficult nor inaccessible. Instead, the listener is able to easily warm up to the material—the transporting dreamscape “Moth and Moon” and jaunty serenade “Jux” two representative examples—and luxuriate in its electroacoustic design, especially when it blossoms so organically.

An earthiness pervades some of the tracks, too, such as the languidly funky “Star.field” and “Willowbrux,” in a way that can't help but boost the music's accessibility. There's no soloing per se; instead, instrument fragments blend into an abundant whole that cumulatively hints at melodic patterns more than explicitly spells them out. In that production regard, KILN operates like dub scientists, even if the group's music isn't dub in any traditional sense of the word. A few heavy-hitters appear as well, among them “Kopperkosmo,” whose punchy groove is but one of the innumerable tactile sounds that catches one's ear during this ultra-scenic travelogue. Here and elsewhere, meadow:watt proves to be a ravishing and stimulating feast for the ears.

November 2013