CALIKA: Blood Embrace (Audiobulb Records)


Posted on Aug 12th 2010 01:37 am

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Calika: Blood Embrace

Blood Embrace
Audiobulb Records 2010
11 Tracks. 48mins48secs

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

Brighton-based Simon Kealoha is back on Audiobulb with his fourth full length slice of refined electro-acoustic in five year, his first album since Seedling Mother (Audiobulb, 2007), following the two EPs released last year, Crooked, once again on Audiobulb, and Slack Jaw on Highpoint Lowlife. Ever since he first appeared, in 2005, with his debut album, Small Talk Kills Me, Kealoha has been refining his sound, bringing together acoustic and electronic elements into complex and fragile formations. Beside working on his own project, Kealoha has also collaborated with Seefeel mastermind Mark Clifford on the excellent Running Taper, an album published on Clifford’s Polyfusia Records in 2005, and on a second opus which came close to be released two years later but appears to have been victim of the demise of the label.

Announced as a more stripped down and bare record, Blood Embrace remains a pretty intricate and organic collection, at times surprisingly light and airy, at others radical and dense. Predominant in his work, the guitar, acoustic in most cases, takes here a variety of roles, from simple textural counterpoint to main focal feature, placed as a discreet melodic filigree amidst strong electronic currents or used as a substantial component in the structure of a piece. While this is not the only acoustic instrument to find its way in this record, it is found in abundance throughout, from the gentle broken pop of Kodachrome or the shimmering Headset and Poor Low Lencher to the sombre undertones of Lug or Fuckin Cretinous. This changes on the piano-led In The Dark, a piece in two half, the first showing a resolutely autumnal, at times almost funeral, tone, while the second reveals a brighter mood as the course of the melody is greatly altered by the introduction of a drum beat, but things become much darker again as layers of mournful organ build up on the emotional aspect of If Ever There Was A Time.

While this confrontation of the organic and artificial is a pretty permanent fixture, Kealoha occasionally switches to more purely electronic or highly processed sounds. This is the case with the rather superb Melcher, with its heady groove and rich sonic backdrop, and later on with the title track, which resonates with seismic percussive noises placed over lightly abrasive sound waves, or on the lighter hip-hop flavoured Palace Pier. These are in no way exempt of acoustic elements, but they are either buried under layers of grainy electronic sounds, only to emerge occasionally, at times for just a brief moment, at others in the dying section of a track, or processed beyond recognition.

While not a major departure from previous Calika releases, Blood Embrace denotes a move toward slightly darker territories for Simon Kealoha, but far from rendering his music heavier, it seems to inject a new lease of energy in his approach. He manipulates his sound sources and integrates the various strands of his sound with great dexterity throughout to create his most consistent and confident work yet.


Calika | Calika (MySpace) | Audiobulb Records
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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