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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

KMRU - Peel [Editions Mego - 2020]

KMRU is the alias of Joseph Kamaru-a Kenyan ambient soundscape artist.  This album, entitled Peel was released this year in 2020 on the famed Editions Mego label.

The warmly emotive minimal chord loops on this album have tonal echoes of Biosphere, William Basinski, Gas (Wolfgang Voigt) and Brian Eno, possessed similarly of thoughtful optimism, meditative patience and sunshine-infused sound design.  These sounds emanate their zen optimism from a place of domestic comfort and clarity, and will quickly draw you back there.  A genuinely serene recording.

The Fifteen  minute opener "Why Are You Here" is quite simplistic, and yet it is easy to be lost in its reverie, pondering the emotional subtleties of the space it creates.  Like Basinski or Voigt's work, the texture is heavily eroded, smeared and blurred; it is only the nectarous undercurrent that remains.  The soft, steady shifting of the reverberant sphere around the notes is as natural as patterns of weather.

Though the tonalities of each piece are immediately obvious, closer scrutiny reveals a world of quiet layers beneath the filtered synths that form the core of each track.  "Well" is appropriately lined with field recordings of water, the soft babbling of streams.  "Solace" does justice to its title, a haunting windsong of wavering resonances, cementing the tone of the album as that of nature worship.

It is the delicate precision of the luminous production which allows such a recording to succeed.  In perfect tonal balance, it is hypotic like a dim light fixture that flickers rhythmically, but never so brightly that one wishes to look away.  Tunneling to ever deeper introspective depth, the album culminates with two lengthy tracks, "Insubstantial" and titular piece "Peel", which give a sensation of streamlining one's consciousness into a contented idling.

This is one of my favorite ambient recordings in recent memory, suitable both for active listening or for sleeping.  The emotions within its tonalities are complex and worthy of many repeated listenings.  KMRU is a rising star in the ambient world and I look forward to hearing his other recordings.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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