Krunk my days! An album that nearly knocked me off my chair and straight into my trainers and worthy of a heady write-up. London’s adopted home-boy and home-grown Baltimore maestro, Kris Klayton aka Karizma pulls out his alter-ego Kaytronik and about to do a Bruce Wayne on the Traxsource charts with Thee Album. Oh this is pure fire so I’m not going to delay in telling you all about it.
An obvious visit back home has inspired and metamorphosed Kaytronik’s creativity as some serious genre-bending is knocking everything you do and don’t know about him out of the ball park. First track, It’s Your Life. Slow-mo, transcendental neo-meets-hip-hop is straight back to his roots and really refreshing. Next track Boy is how we know Karizma works, re-triggers, fast-fuelled loops and plenty of layers infected with some cool soulful vocals on a jazz vibe. A brief interlude your ears are re-routed to the crazy, funking Renegade Ha. Oh it’s got plenty of everything rolling out with The Warriorsstyled disc jockey intro this one takes no prisoners or victims straight in with angst angry bass line. A sampled chain-gang chant drops in on the two infectiously mimicking a Ska rhythm – pow! You’d be hard pressed to stay still on this one, it totally blew me away dance floor smash.
Down into blue-grass roots mode is Do It enhanced with a hint of psychedelia. Rolling blues guitar and catchy samples make this a worthy ode. Well this track says it all for me, Nice Mutha another gorgon of a tune it really is. Plump and dirty, it got me saying oh s**t too! I think he was reading my mind as the girl with the sucker for a cheeky hook or stinking bass is well and truly giving this the thumbs up. I Say is a mother-stonker of track with wicked-as-hell sub bass line, I can’t wait to hear this tremble on woofer. Oh and that re-triggering magic fingers thing he does is in there a plenty, it will set your ears ringing, your head nodding and your feet freaking out. Beautifully versatile and an ingenious use of Dionne Warwick vocal ensconced with 16 bars on Never Go and filtered Bacharach-esque samples. A wicked little bass break-down at bridge just drops and leaving you hanging for Dust Yourself Off.
Nat King Cole reasons with Tribe Called Quest for a Kaytronik love movement on this track with slick attitude. Slumming and cool yet airy you can still get down to it. I’m just loving Ain’t No. Some good old classic dance music on the Baltimore tip. Jumping and pumping track with a classic diva-style vocal rolling with the bass. I’m hit with haunting interlude Quiet Places In My Head Part 2 a short journey into over-stretched synths, slowed-down beats reaching an anticlimax. Next up the sample on this track has caused a social media frenzy in light of the riots sweeping the United States last year. Yes, Minister Louis Farrakhan has now made his mark in deep house music courtesy of Holy (So Let’s Not Play). Killer rift compliments the thought-provoking dress-down.
A gospel infusion from the roots up is Forever Grateful (For Walter & Andre) and the back down below is the subterranean disco flit Now I See. Filtered disco is big thing at the moment and this is down K’s way all his big beat/bass and multi-triggers work perfectly here. What is the flexing of more experimental sounds on the mixing desk and is an apt interlude to track Nothing Really. Rolling deep in beats and frenetic piano scales it comes in fast and furious and leaves just as quickly – contagious you want more.
State We In, depicts the mounting frustrations of the riots played out along tinny angst beat-driven intro. I get it – the building tension; when the pressure becomes too much. Sampled commentary is a reflector and the message as Baltimore burned last April. As the heaviness of the production deepens into entranced, carnal rhythms brought to attention by what sounds like an acute sampled police siren the testament is all too clear about the state we in. This a real representation of how dance/electronic music can have a political voice and be taken seriously.
Thee Album is an insight to what has affected this creative’s environment and his home, the negative the violence afflicting the black community from a political majority ending in fatalities and riots, the positive – the new insurgence of music sweeping the west coast collectively future bass. I was so excited when I listened to this album here is what artists should do inspire, be inspired, push boundaries – work outside your comfort zone, explore, devour and Kaytronik has done all here. Creating cross-breeds, bending rules, mixing and mashing this is the one to beat from my producer-du jour, Thee Album.
Review by Sandra Swaybe-Barrett
On General Release Now
Music | Kaytronik – Thee Album