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Album Reviews

Kilo Kish - Reflections in Real Time

Adam Sputh

  Following the release of her 2014 EP Across, Kilo Kish came back swinging yesterday with her first, full length EP. The Florida born musician and artist may be best known outside of her solo work for her contributions on Childish Gambino’s work, as well as Vince Staple’s most recent project, Summertime ’06- though that’s just her music. Kish also found a home DJ’ing, modeling, creating visual art, and designing clothes. Perhaps the most polarizing aspect of Kish’s music is her voice, as it either can make or break whether or not you like what you’re listening to. I’m sure that she is no stranger to being told that her voice can be off putting for many people, as its’ soft and gentle delivery can certainly be either jarring or soothing depending on the instrumental. Luckily, I found myself in the latter camp, really digging her contributions as a guest on others work, as well as her own solo material, which can find a beautiful, smooth home.
  If you’re a fan of Across, you’ll find a lot to love in Reflections in Real Time, as the album sonically continues the same dreamy, psychedelic approach, allowing you to think and giving you room to breathe, but still including enough interesting decisions to keep you engaged in the music. The album really is a continuation of the sound that she started in her previous release, except more drawn out. Given room to breathe in a full length release, Kish takes plenty of time to create tracks that don’t feel quite like skits, not quite like interludes, and not quite like songs- dipping their toes in all three, and creating some fluidity for the piece. Many may find this off-putting, and if that’s the case, I certainly wouldn’t argue with you. From the opening track “Thank You!”, which feels like a proper stage introduction, to “Existential Crisis Hour”, which features Donald Glover answering existential questions with Kish. Sure- perhaps it is simply a joke track, but there would really be no way of knowing, as even throughout the tracks that are meant to be full songs, Kish scatters around miscellaneous thoughts and ideas that seem to come to her brain. Again, many will probably not find a home listening to something like that, but I really enjoyed it. The album is called Reflections in Real Time, and I think that it represents that feeling quite well.
  Even though there are many pandering tracks (which, again, I believe add to the the atmosphere of the overall piece in a substantial way), there is plenty to love, with Kish stepping up the grooviness of her instrumentation in many places. If you’re looking for a good amount of tracks that will make your head nod as the percussion finds their way onto them, guiding the melody, this is a great album for you. One of my favorites is “Collected Views From Dinner”, which starts out as more of a pseudo-skit, but quickly finds a home with Kish’s honest vocals and a groovy guitar riff pushing the song along, not in an energetic way, but perhaps something that you would hear on a nice day on Laguna Beach. Much of the album finds a home in this sound, not simply with shimmering guitars and groovy bass lines, but also housing plenty of synthetic keys and drum machines- making it a melodic and rhythmic dream. The album also holds some psychedelic soul, as well as electronic influences with “Life: The Cruel Interlude (On God)” , Kish prospers in shimmering synthetic keys and very 808 heavy percussion, all casing her still soft vocals as if it were a seamless sonic transition.
  For me, it really is Kish herself that holds much of this album together, lyrically as well as vocally. I really do think that her vocals along the instrumentation that she chooses (perhaps produced by herself- I can not find that information) are very, very smooth, easily allowing you to glide across the 57 minute run time with no questions asked- all things considered, her delivery is solid. No, she probably would not find a home on a high energy, blowout track that would require her to stretch her pipes in a leading way, but I don’t think she’s trying to do anything abrasive like that either. She creates a world with her sound and plays within it, not going outside the walls or attempting anything that would make the piece as a whole feel incohesive. You feel friendly with her, diving into her psyche and hearing her opinions on the world and her own life- in real time. 
  It’s the fact that this is such a solid, cohesive piece that I believe I am going to keep returning to this. This is not just a collection of songs, nor is it simply a collection of songs with a similar theme or similar sonic play field. This is a journey, it is a carefully crafted collection of thoughts, ideas, values, opinions, and otherwise from Kish. I don’t feel undersold, and I don’t feel disappointed by what she created- the instrumentation is smooth, the vocals strong, and the vibe it gives off is just good. Kish really put a lot of work into this one, and I applaud it. Of course, many parts of it are abstract, which translates into not being for everyone, but I loved every second of this album. It feels comfortable within its' own realm and Kish did a spectacular job at creating something that made you feel like you know her throughout. If you have a chance, please give this a listen - you might really enjoy yourself.