LOKAI: Transition (Thrill Jockey)


Posted on Jul 29th 2009 10:18 pm

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Lokai: Transition

Thrill Jockey 2009
09 Tracks. 37mins45secs

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Lokai materialised briefly in 2005, just long enough to record a collection of granular electro-acoustic pieces, 7 Million, released on Austrian imprint Mosz. Since, Vienna-based Florian Kmet and Stefan Németh have been busy with other projects, the latter having notably a solo album on Thrill Jockey last year, leaving Lokai dormant for all this time.

The pair reconvened last year, using Kmet’s old flat as rehearsal venue/recording studio, allowing them to take the necessary time to explore the wealth of acoustic instruments at their disposal and work ways to process them into fully-formed compositions. The result, collected in this somewhat short, yet rather exquisite second album, appears overall smoother and more delicate than the duo’s previous output, yet it retains the same granularity and subtle layering. Each track is composed of multitudes of sonic particles which continuously form, disperse and reform into various musical phrases, or progressively converge toward a central point.

Roads, which opens, starts with what sounds like an old ship cracking and breathing under a gentle breeze, but which, on closer listen, is likely to be sourced from the frame of an upright piano. Later on, a mechanical rhythm rises, leading a recurring little melody through the various noises. A similar electro-acoustic modular structure is developed on 4 A.M. and Glimmer, but these pieces are much more minimal, linear and introvert. On the latter, a plaintive accordion comes brushing against a restricted set of percussions first, then against a shimmering acoustic guitar. The piece comes to a complete standstill around the two and a half minute mark, but regains consistence for a further few seconds.

On Panarea and later Bruit, the pair start with somewhat rarefied components, a barely audible hiss on the former, percussion on the latter, but soon build up a much starker and dense sound formation. On Panarea, this process is slow and allows for ephemeral melodies to form, but on Bruit, a bleak wall of distortions advances fast and rapidly becomes overwhelming, but retreats almost as quickly once it reaches its peak. Elsewhere, Kmet and Németh focus for a short moment on a radically simple and stripped down moment on the exquisite and folky Volver, while closing piece Roads (Reprise) offers a smoother, almost melodic side to the pair’s electro-acoustic excursions.

With this second album, Lokai have vastly expanded the scope of their work, especially towards its more delicate side and given their music much more depth and detailing. Their pieces are often fragile and all too quickly gone, but this actually works in their favour and contributes to give the overall album a transient feel.


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