If Canadian producer/musician Kuma isn’t DJ’ing or using bpms to make people move on dance floors, then he’s creating ambient soundscapes to get completely lost in. Much like conjuring beats and four-on-the-floor techno bangers, his work in experimental soundscapes is equally engaging. On last year’s Time Makes Memory Of Us All(released on UK label Soundtracking The Void) Kuma built a sound world of brooding white noise and swaths of industrial doom mixed with jazz, bringing to mind Bitches Brew being swallowd by a black hole. It was an engaging sound, one meant less for the dance floor and more for existential flights of pondering.
Now on his latest, Rainbow Kaleidoscope For Constants, Kuma dispatches a patchwork of gauzy, sonic haze that feels like waking from years in hyperspace sleep. A 7-track retreat into the mind; a druggy road trip into the heart of darkness for a 6-pk of long necks and the meaning of our existence.
According to Kuma, the following were invoked for the making of this record: “Temporal manipulations, loops, the ghosts of lap steel players, coffee, cats, synths, field recordings, and tapes.” There are ghosts that haunt these tracks. Like specters meandering the aisles of abandoned factories, decomposing malls, or dilapidated hospitals waiting for destruction. His other idea was to make a soundtrack to a made up road movie, and I feel on these 7 tracks Kuma has hit the mark.
“Drifting Not Falling” feels like being half here and half somewhere else, whether in the physical or emotional sense. A feeling of mild claustrophobia comes over you, as if being in darkness yet an insurmountable space. Not knowing where you’ll hit a wall or drop off a jagged cliff. “Archiving The Alchemists” starts out in light but goes monochromatic halfway through. I’m reminded of Huerco S’ Colonial Patterns; stark soundscapes set on repeat with aged-sounding loops that are both hypnotic and disconcerting.
The mood throughout is desolation and impermanence. Vast open spaces occasionally filled with echoes of what came before. This is a road trip album, but one set in a dystopian future. Dusty clouds of terra firma whip up as the sepia-toned horizon lays out before you. To where? Who knows. “Scent of Light” sounds like a distant siren, unsure if it’s real or just some ghost of a memory trapped in your brain. Closing track “The World Becomes Quiet” buzzes ominously, as if a plane is flying overhead, hidden in overcast skies. It broods and spins in a sea of electronics that sound as if birds are cackling in the distance; a murder of crows on long dead power lines screaming to no one or nothing in-particular.
If there were a modern album that could properly score Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, I’d say Kuma’s Rainbow Kaleidoscope For Constants could fit that bill perfectly. Beautifully still, yet layered in just the right amount of cold desolation and monochromatic doom.
7.9 out of 10
Kuma’s ‘Rainbow Kaleidoscope For Constants’ is available now on Fallen Moon Recordings.