KHALIJA: Khalija EP (Force Intel)


Posted on Jul 21st 2010 01:23 am

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Khalija: Khalija EP

Khalija EP
Force Intel 2010
06 Tracks. 52mins36secs
Format: Digital

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

Kicking a record label back to life, especially one with such a rich pedigree as Mille Plateaux, is by no means a small feat, and only the future will tell if the new team in charge can live up to expectations. The label, founded in 1993 as an experimental outlet for German imprint Force Inc Music Works, was brought down to its knees, like many others, by the collapse of the EFA distribution group in 2003. The label was recently brought back to life with the release of the fifth instalment in the Clicks & Cuts series and now comes under the umbrella of the Vertical Label group, which also harbours a handful of new imprints. One such label is Force Intel, which kicks off its catalogue entry with this rather impressive digital-only self-titled EP by Khalija. While this release comes with virtually no information from the label, a quick Google search reveals that this is the solo project of Wyatt Keusch, a musician and sound artist based in Los Angeles who, beside Khalija, regularly collaborates with various musicians on a number of other projects.

While counting just six tracks, this EP actually stretches past the fifty minutes mark and showcases quite an interesting range, from the warm classic electronic of Pt. I and the fractured minimalist of Pt. V to the much more introspective of Pts. II, III and IV. Keusch eases himself in with a polished piece of electronica which harks back to the early days of Warp or Rephlex, but the twelve and a half minute Pt. II signals that things might not be quite as straightforward as they originally appeared. The atmosphere is much hazier and challenging, with the whole piece focusing on tiny crackles and glitches, which appear exacerbated by the constant rumble of a muffled bass line far in the distance. In fact, the whole thing sounds as if Keusch has captured the noise of a party happening three floors below. Rare melodic brushes, more defined and contrasted, rise to the surface around the half-way mark before dissolving once again in the ambient hum. This is a far cry from the earlier piece, and while there is a hypnotic element to the track, it at times feels a tad too long to make a real impact. Pt. III starts on a similar rarefied bed of muffled electronics and glitches, but the piece take on a warmer feel with the rise of a rounded drone-like chord. There is, in appearance, not much more happening here than on Pt. II, but, observed in more detail, the backdrop is ridden with tiny glitches and pulses which contrast greatly with the smooth surface of the chord which appears to shelter them.

Pts. IV and V denote a more angular approach as Keusch manipulates corroded electronics and broken rhythms. On the former, these are progressively softened throughout the piece as he introduces a kaleidoscopic pattern on the second half and finds himself close to Boards Of Canada for a moment, while the latter appears more fragmented and abstract, as a melody struggles to find ground to prosper and is left instead in a permanent state of collapse. The isolationist overtones of the last part bring back the reflective mood that was stamped all over Pts. II and III, but there is something quite pastoral about the minimal soundscapes Keusch deploys here.

This inaugural release from Force Intel, while particularly varied, proves quite an interesting journey. At times, things don’t quite add up to a consistent enough whole, especially on Pt. II, but this doesn’t overshadow the rest of the record and its intriguing topography will undoubtedly require further explorations to do it justice.


Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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