Press/Reviews

Niall of Cork

To some the notion of electronic music can bring to mind repetitive synth and drum loops with very little to distinguish it from whatever else is rattling around in the electronic litter tray that month. Not so with this release from Ketsa, the latest incarnation of London based Musician, DJ and producerDominic Giam.

The literal translation of Al Kemet is from the Western interpretation of Egyptian magic… the phrase from which we draw the word ‘alchemy’ and there’s certainly elements of magic in this release. There are catchy beats aplenty and lots of overlaid piano and vocal samples used to great effect throughout. At times the mood is slow and ponderous but there’s joined up thinking throughout – this album flows as opposed to stopping and stuttering through its runtime.

There are fourteen tracks (plus a hidden number) on offer here and nearly every one of them is quality. Opener ‘Solution’ brings to mind the kind of music Thom Yorke is trying to make when he veers off kilter with his solo efforts. It’s a fantastically low-key opener with staggered piano loops over a catchy breakbeat. Other tracks of note include the trippy goodness of ‘Distillation’, its lightly dusted percussion working really well with a nicely underplayed brass sample. ‘Callination’ is a fantastic track, its slowly meandering percussion builds over squelchy electronic beeps and beats. ‘Purification’ works an eastern sounding vocal sample over an almost Muse-like piece of piano (trust me it works far better than that sounds). In fact, it’s the piano that stands out largely on this album for me. Ketsa tickles the ivories over worked electronica to create some excellent tuneage.

I’m genuinely struggling to come up with an artist to compare Ketsa with, at times on tracks like ‘Multiplication’ Kraftwerk might come to mind, then he turns it on his head with the next song. It’s certainly very different to anything I’ve been listening to lately and in places he produces a sound that is entirely his own. Being able to avoid being easily pigeonholed is generally no bad thing. East meets west is too lazy a generalisation to describe this album – it’s an assured and decidedly different release from someone with very much their own sound. Al Kemet marks Ketsa’s first release on the Invisible Agent label and there’s a confidence and crispness to the meshing of genres at play here that marks out the Londoner as a name to look out for. (The artwork by Cambodian artist Dina Chhan is equally impressive – Ed.)

*Note: Invisible Agent have also made their entire back catalogue free to download. Go here for details –http://www.invisibleagent.com/2012/08/14/entire-back-catalog-is-now-free/.

https://niallofcork.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/ketsa-al-kemet-invisible-agent/

Netlabelism

The newest album at Invisible Agent records is Al Kernet by Ketsa. It is fantastic. And long, too. Most releases barely reach ten tracks these days, and it is nice to see a traditional ‘LP’ length which oozes hard work and dedication as well as consistency. London-based Dominic Giam (Ketsa) is an unquestionably talented guy. From the first couple of tracks, his gracious musicianship and compositional skills are obvious, and paired with an aptitude for mixing and sound manipulation makes for a wonderful combo. Guitar-based chord structures are blessed with tasteful beats and careful glitches, in what is largely trip-hop, but possessing a refreshing edge on most downtempo electronica.

There is a distinct purity to this exotic multi-dimensional sound, which is presented with effortless clarity. He does not hide behind anything; the ideas and sounds are raw, but expertly mixed and delivered with style. ‘Separation’ sprouts from your speakers, and almost made me feel like I had inhaled a big wiff of Olbas oil. The quaint piano melodics here are a little too quantised for my liking, but have such an elegant nature that this can be excused. And the percussion! A great example of real freedom to experiment, whilst also managing to compliment and decorate the strong melodic ideas. By far my favourite of the album. So much so, it deserves its own preview…

Ketsa – Separation

 

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‘Calcination’ introduces a glitchy-dubby side, very much trip-time. It’s a bit like audible salvia. ‘Comixtion’, with its meek and submissive chord sequence, is such a cute follow up. ‘Inbibition’ is just the right side of nasty (which is difficult to achieve), which amazed me how so many gurgling glitchy noises can be contributory to something so divine. The mesmerising guitar parts and spiralling melodies in ‘Fixation’ almost had me falling off my chair with dizziness. And the great thing is, the five aforementioned tracks are so tastefully different to each other; fruitful variety whilst establishing a distinct individuality. It’s the sign of a very skilled artist indeed.

I have a strong suspicion that Ketsa has the musical world at his feet. With this kind of compositional talent, natural understanding of harmony, and a flare for fluent instrumental writing, what is to stop him being the next Cinematic Orchestra? Or the next Jaga Jazzist? This album was a great pleasure to listen to as it  has magnificent depth and such varied musical qualities. Ninja Tune has missed out on a valuable contribution to their artist roster here (so far…).

http://netlabelism.com/review/ketsa-al-kemet/
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