Kiasmos
Kiasmos


3.5
great

Review

by ComeToDaddy USER (48 Reviews)
December 3rd, 2014 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A silhouette of potential, struggling to find its form.

Kiasmos is, in a word, great. It stays engrossing from start to finish and is one of the most cohesive releases put together to date by these two artists, both combined and individually. The album could be described as breathtaking or entrancing, and yet I still find myself seeing this release as a disappointment, for reasons completely separate from the music itself. Expectations are the problem, and when the well-established artist Olafur Arnalds released an album as divisive as For Now I Am Winter, these expectations ran wild. The inclusion of electronics and vocals in the mix totally altered his entire image, and while this rubbed some the wrong way, it opened up infinite possibilities for future expansion. Where would he go from here? Kiasmos (as a collaboration between Bloodgroup’s Janus Rasmussen and Olafur) has been around since 2009, but following on from such a wild experiment, the announcement of an official full length was exciting. Would the vocals be similar to Olafur’s 2013 release, or closer in style to Bloodgroup’s synth-pop? Would the electronics lean towards crystalline production, or the scratchy aesthetic found in songs like ‘This Place Was A Shelter’? Mixing a synth-pop artist with classical will make a pretty diverse album given their divergent influences, right?

Instead, they opt to carefully and intently hone in on a specific sound. Kiasmos is like the slow-burning anxiety that builds on a dark walk home - it’s swimming in the lake and not quite being able to see your feet. There’s nothing special that happens, no monster that suddenly jumps out at you; all that tension and fear resides only in your head. The patience and restraint shown on this release can be almost unbearable at times, with warm piano lines being contrasted against glassy synth shards and mechanical beats to build suspense. When taken out of context, the peaks of highlights like ‘Bent’ and ‘Looped’ sound overwhelming, but when accompanied by everything surrounding those moments it simply sounds like a natural progression. The album is understated to an extreme degree, and refuses to rush forward or eschew the plan it has set out for itself, circling in on its target with startling precision. On the one hand, this enables the duo to completely flesh out every track on the album. On the other, the tension on which Kiasmos thrives completely dies out on repeated listens.

This release is at its best when the artists resort to more comfortable styles, rather than forcibly meshing their influences together. ‘Held’ is perfectly representative of this, where the emotive piano melody and haunting strings sound like something right out of ‘…And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness’, and the comfort and ease with which Arnalds handles these facets is obvious. Another highlight track ‘Bent’ shows the other half of the duo taking the spotlight and working with a far grimier electronic palette, applying it to a shell more akin to deep house than the hybrid style utilized throughout the album. The moment this track peaks in its outro is the single most memorable moment to be found in Kiasmos, and begs a question - Why didn’t they pursue more of this experimentation? However, there are places where this “my part, your part” approach falls in a heap, painfully evident at times like the clunky transition between ‘Looped’ and ‘Swayed’.

There’s something dreamy about this dichotomous mix of genres that’s hard to pinpoint, but gives the release an absurdly intense appeal in early listens. The duo certainly does stumble in places, and the limited sonic diversity can hurt its long-term appeal, but Kiasmos still manages to enchant. There is a sense of restlessness lurking here, shining through in the light shifting of beats from loop to loop; a willingness to change shackled by an imagined cage of necessary repetition. Kiasmos is a silhouette of what it could be, refusing to accept its formlessness and subscribing to the age-old adage to “fake it till you make it”. They haven’t made it yet, but this is a perfect taster in the interim.



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user ratings (78)
3.9
excellent
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brazilianaire (3)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ComeToDaddy
December 3rd 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pretty disappointed that my tests stopped me getting this review out sooner, I feel like this would've picked up a lot of steam if people knew it was Olafur Arnalds when it came out a month ago. Though this album slowly fell from a ~4.3 to it's current standing after around 20 listens during exams, taking this extra time let me give a more informed opinion I guess...



Anyway, constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated! I tried to shake up my writing style a bit, especially through that last paragraph, so I'd love some feedback

ComeToDaddy
December 3rd 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Another problem with dropping the review a month after release: full album stream was taken down, it now only has 2 of the tracks on it. Luckily they're 2 of the best tracks on here! (though Held isn't there unfortunately)



http://drownedinsound.com/news/4148406-album-stream--kiasmos-minimal-techno-with-a-modern-classical-twist

zaruyache
December 3rd 2014


21606 Comments


I remember that Olaf is good. Definitely gonna check this out!

Digging: Blue Noise - Everyone Goes Away Eventually

ComeToDaddy
December 4th 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You absolutely should! My 3.5 is a pretty harsh score, I could see some people adoring it

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
December 4th 2014


6744 Comments


A 3.5 = "great". Not a harsh score IMO

Anyway, read the review and I like it. I definitely enjoyed your take, though I'm gonna imagine a lot if readers might think it isn't straightforward enough. If I had any advice, I'd repeat what Iswimfast told me: ground your metaphors. You could follow up some of your abstract ideas with "this is what you might feel listening to it" stuff.

I enjoy writing like this, but it could be a bit more approachable and casual

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 4th 2014


32737 Comments


Review is phenomenal. Keep it up dude.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

ComeToDaddy
December 4th 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, that's good to know, I was a bit heavier on the metaphors than I normally am so I wanted some feedback on how it turned out. I'll take that advice for the next one :]



Cheers Sowing

cryptside
December 4th 2014


2397 Comments


Awesome review, dude. You're one of my favorite reviewers around here.

ComeToDaddy
December 4th 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks sig, you were one of the first people to give me feedback on my early ones so that means a lot

cryptside
December 4th 2014


2397 Comments


Hey dude, the potential was always there, I'm always glad to help when I can. You're a very good writer.

TwigTW
December 9th 2014


3824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Kiasmos is like the slow-burning anxiety that builds on a dark walk home - it’s swimming in the lake and not quite being able to see your feet. There’s nothing special that happens, no monster that suddenly jumps out at you; all that tension and fear resides only in your head."



Best description I've read in a long time--nice review of an excellent album.

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2014


11746 Comments


Fantastic review CTD, you're reviews are always interesting to read, pos'd hard.

Digging: Mercyful Fate - Melissa

ComeToDaddy
December 20th 2014


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Scuro, appreciate that a lot

Cygnatti
February 3rd 2015


32932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this jams guys

Cygnatti
March 9th 2015


32932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bent is so fuckin intense

ComeToDaddy
March 9th 2015


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bent is the track I always come back for, that peak at the end gets me so pumped

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
March 9th 2015


19985 Comments


looped is so good omg

Cygnatti
March 10th 2015


32932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

agreed hard this is like top 5 of 2014 for me

CaptainDooRight
May 21st 2015


4193 Comments


faith

Digging: Cadacross - So Pale Is The Light

ComeToDaddy
September 9th 2015


1806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

actually gonna bump this, fuck my review it deserves a 4. Bent and Held are unreal



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