lokai » transition

lokai » transition
thrill jockey, 
CD/LP – thrill 219
sonotope - lokai » transition

artist: lokai 
title: transition
label: thrill jockey  , 
2009 (CD/LP – thrill 219)
written, recorded and mixed by
Florian Kmet and Stefan Németh

.01 roads


.03 panarea


.05 4a.m



.08 tik
.09 roads (reprise)


at Thrill Jockey

“Lokai– the Viennese duo of Florian Kmet and Radian’s Stefan Németh– can’t be accused of making pop music. Németh, a member of the group Radian and co-founder of the Mosz label, has a background in electro-acoustic improv, low-intensity noise, and what might be described as full-bodied microsound. Kmet, a guitarist and member of the group Superlooper, has a similar pedigree. Their debut album, 2005’s 7 Million, was a rough blend of guitar feedback, bell tones, and buzzing drones– the music sounded exposed and at the mercy of the elements.
But a strange things happen just two minutes into “Roads”, the opening track on their new album for Thrill Jockey. Out of a delicate scrabble of indeterminate clicks and clacks– the sound of a bassy piano string being pulled from its frame? An underwater recording from a sailboat dock?– grows the unmistakable shape of a song. The clanking finds a rhythm, and against a background of massing strings, a melody arises out of the pitter-patter of glockenspiel and mbira. Or, in any case, sounds that evoke those worldly instruments: With Lokai, you can never be sure exactly what’s being played, sampled, or processed. But there’s no doubting the songliness of the thing. It’s more than mere suggestion, as contrapuntal tones stack up and ambient rustle settles into an unmistakable groove, a 104- BPM pulse that wouldn’t be out of place on one of Lawrence or Efdemin’s more muted 12″ singles. And then, before you know it, it’s gone.
A similar tension animates all nine tracks here, where musical structure is always on the cusp of dissolving into pure sound, or possibly vice versa. Usually we assume that tones are the building blocks of what we perceive as music, but Lokai reverse that hierarchy. Their ephemeral constructions play with the assumption that we’re hard-wired to recognize patterns in chaos, redirecting our attention to the chaos inherent in patterns. But if that’s a heavy-handed explanation of their process, fortunately, the music is anything but. The supple timbres of brushed percussion, bells, Rhodes, melodica, and guitar are warm, immersive, and somehow deeply reassuring. The songs lull the listener into such a receptive state that they may seem much longer than they really are. In reality, only four tracks stretch beyond the five- minute mark, and barely, at that; the rest run between two and four minutes. They’re sketches that open up into panoramic landscapes, evoking the vistas of a Caspar David Friedrich with the brushtrokes of a Klee.
Unlike some of their peers, Lokai are content here to leave their acoustic sources relatively unvarnished and unadulterated, unmarked by, say, the foaming granular processes of Fennesz or Tim Hecker. (A closer comparison might be to Sweden’s Tape or Germany’s September Collective.) The duo recorded the album in Kmet’s home studio over the course of four years, and that freedom– the musicians have described it as “a joyful process”– is felt in the music’s unhurried pace and limpid clarity. “Volver,” which feels in many ways like the album’s gravitational center, rolls out pensive guitar chords over sinewave drones whose gentle dissonances create slowly undulating pulses. “Bruit”, which begins with muted, rolling toms, slowly masses into a geyser of splash cymbals and guitar feedback before subsiding into measured hand-drumming, regular as clockwork. “Tik”, honeycombed with tightly-looped string drones, is the album’s most luminous track, its intensity a perfect setup for the final wind-down of “Roads (Reprise)”, which returns to the themes introduced in the album’s opening track. You’re unlikely to pick the moments apart like this, however. At only 38 minutes long, the album invites repeat listening and extended wandering through the labyrinthine passages hidden within its folds.”
[Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork 2009]

» all releases

lokai 'transition'

lokai ‘transition’
thrill jockey, 2009

lokai '7 million'

lokai 'transition'

lokai ‘transition’
thrill jockey, 2009

lokai '7 million'

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