Musician and producer Kuma has laid out quite the ethereal and expansive set of albums over the last couple of years. Between releases with Soundtracking The Void, Waxing Crescent Records, as well as self-released works his is a sound world of cavernous tomes and ambient swells that seem to emanate from some Jungian hole in the self we’re forever trying to fill.
Time has been an obsession of Kuma’s for some time now and on his new album, Buy The Tools You Need With Time, he’s meditating on it wholly and completely. Using electronics and his voice, Kuma ruminates on the concept of time over 11 tracks. Each track is its own universe; pockets of echo, cavernous voids, and existential space for pondering the elusive time; that thing we can never have enough of and that thing we never get back.
Buy The Tools You Need With Time, much like Kuma’s other work, is an album to experience. You sit in the vast spaces the producer has created and let the amorphous sounds envelope you. I’ve been a fan of Kuma’s since I first heard Time Makes Memory Of Us All back in 2020. If you could have a peek into someone’s psyche, I imagine it would sound like a Kuma record. It’s not dark, but it’s not comforting either. It’s the sound of spaces in-between moments. Those quick glimpses behind the veil when we think about what came before and what is coming just ahead. Where we’re very aware in the moment and time almost becomes a living entity, not just a concept. A gray, vaguely human-shaped splotch that stands next to us at all times, and only in those quick moments do we notice its presence. And more painfully so, it’s instant absence.
Songs like “Are You Still Afraid”, “Dr. Faust”, and “This Is What Happens At The End Of Time” are not songs, really. They are more like visceral sound experiences. It’s like walking into a dense, black space and listening to the silence. The silence builds into something else, like a steady whistle of wind that seems to emanate from inside of your head. Meditative howls of thought as that internal clock we all carry with us ticks and tocks, ticks and tocks. “Running Down That Hill” even has a touch of melancholy in the persistent, subtle melody that reveals itself in the drone. Ghostly howls lay just under the surface, which could very well be a fog covering what came before and hiding what is still to come.
Buy The Tools You Need With Time is a meditation on one of the most valuable of commodities. One that’s endlessly bartered on between us and the universe. One that once we part with is impossible to ever get back. We look back on it via photos, paintings, music, and the ever unreliable memory, but it’s never quite the same in mere thought. The songs Kuma has created here morph and stretch and echo and howl in an attempt to exorcise a memory or two. Or to at least understand these malleable moments, molding them in a way that’s comfortable enough to live with. Something we can live with.