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WHITE HINTERLAND – Kairos

Dead Oceans

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In Greek Kairos, the title of White Hinterland’s new album means literally “supreme moment’, one which exists in a sort of suspended animation where time is cyclical not linear and from the sounds of Casey Deniel’s new direction that title is pretty appropriate. A little gem of an album, Kairos reveals itself carefully over the first few listens and then blossoms into something pretty special. Deniel has largely left the piano and orchestration of Phylactery Factory and her debut Wind Up Canary behind her and delved head first into an electronic adventure as the 11 tracks click and whirr synthing and sequencing themselves around her unique and fragile vocals. Its the contrast between machine and human that makes Kairos work so well.

From the first few echoed vocal seconds of album opener ‘Icarus’, there’s a telling feel that something special is about to unfold. Full of subtle power and replete with reverbed rimshots, a pulsing bass and echoed coos, ‘Icarus’ gives way to the haunting, icy almost otherworldly ‘Moon Jam’. ‘No Logic’, an album highlight, possesses a tripped out bass line amidst handspun beats and a jam like feel at the end. ‘Cataract’ is a soulful number that positively soars while the hypnotic percussive repetition of ‘Huron’ swaps beautifully for the album closer, ‘Magnolias’, where Deniel’s swooning vocals sit atop sparse and brittle guitar chords. It’s the carefully crafted creation of soundscapes that hint at the thought of a desolate winter wonderland but at the same time they possess a great deal of warmth and invitation that is indicative of inspired songwriting that has elevated Deniel’s and partner Shawn Creeden’s musical reputation beyond expectation. Kairos is a definite winner in all departments.

James Stocker – March 15, 2010.

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