Posted on Dec 9th 2009 12:25 am
Audiobulb Records 2009
05 Tracks. 22mins04secs
Highpoint Lowlife 2009
05 Tracks 20mins32secs
Clearly willing to spread his music to the cream of British electronic imprints, Brighton-based Calika has, in recent weeks, returned to both Sheffield’s Audiobulb and London’s Highpoint Lowlife, offering each label five tracks of fine electronic music compiled on two EPs. Simon Kealoha, the brain behind Calika, has, in the past, released two albums on Audiobulb, worked with Benbecula and contributed one track to Highpoint Lowlife’s excellent Analog For Architecture compilation, published in 2006. Beside his solo activities, he has also worked with Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, with whom he has recorded two albums worth of material, the first, Running Tapper, released through Clifford’s Polyfusia imprint, the second yet to materialise.
With these two digital-only releases, coming ahead of Kealoha’s fourth full length, currently being recorded, Calika exhibits two different sides of his musical landscapes. While Crooked makes extensive use of a wide acoustic palette, processed and arranged into relatively atmospheric compositions, Slack Jaw appears rawer, more electric, and driven by heavier grooves.
Twisted and occasionally moody, especially on the title track, Crooked is as fresh and invigorating as the last Calika album. Constantly changing pace, from the subdued allure of the title track and the twisted funk of Mega Mega to the wonky mock post-rock of I Still Dream Of You, the elegant acoustic textures of Reminders and the ambient form of A Serpentine Tale, Kealoha embarks here on a short, yet plentiful, journey, determined to cram as much as the mind can deal with in the twenty two minutes of this EP. This is no pretentious game play though. Each track has a clear focus and a well defined outline and is fuelled by particularly effective soundscapes. Kealoha processes his acoustic textures with great care, rarely leaving them untouched, choosing instead to give them a grittier feel or a sharper edge, before incorporating them in the fabric of his compositions to create a warm and organic collection.
This process also defines much of Slack Jaw, but the sources are either much more concentrated or vastly different. Indeed, this EP, while retaining some of the atmospheric aspect of Crooked, appears more angular and bad-tempered. Occasionally sounding like the live recordings of a band which would have been finely sliced and recomposed, the tracks collected here denote a darker, nastier, edgier sound. Gone are the tasteful sonic textures and delicate melodies. Here Kealoha deploys complex structures, propelled by faltering breakbeats and intricate melodic patterns. Oscar and Gioconda are especially gritty and moody, while Crome Yellow feeds on a sleeker groove and shows a slightly more approachable side, and closing piece To Hold You relieves the pressure a tad by displaying a more cheerful personality.
With these two distinct EPs, Simon Kealoha consolidates his solo work by applying similar techniques to create radically different records. While it is difficult to know which direction will inform his next record, both Crooked and Slack Jaw prove mighty fine releases in their own right, and, while they do not exactly complete each other, are equally as worthy of attention.
Crooked: 4.5/5 Slack Jaw: 4.4/5