Kamixlo - Cicatriz
A Closer Listen
Hard days can produce hard music, as is apparent in the full-length debut of Kamixlo following a number of EPs. The producer honed his sound as the owner of the Bala Club imprint, a label and club that ignored boundaries in search of a deeper tone. Cicatriz (Spanish for scar) is a pounding, propulsive, percussive beast that makes one wish the club were still open ~ but then again, few clubs are open in the time of COVID.
Numerous influences are felt throughout the set, from industrial to reggaeton. The common denominator is an unrelenting aggression. While we sometimes take our scars out on the world, at other times our scars define us, and we wear them as badges of honor. This certainly seems to be the case on “Sick,” the album’s first single, a stomper for steel-toed boots. This opening salvo emits confidence and strength. One can imagine climbing to the top of a speaker, drink in hand, toasting the audience. It also makes one want to drive really fast.
After a pair of industrial churners (one dedicated to Limp Bizkit’s DJ), the two-part title track pushes to center stage. At 112 BPMs, “Cicatriz” seems like a slow roller, but the sense of power is unmistakable. Guest stars Felix Lee and Woesum appear late in the album to enhance the flavor, but “Destruction” is the most memorable track, offering a siren-like buildup before a declarative shift from one set of beats to another. In a set based on an in-your-face sound, the greatest impact is made when the artist holds back. While the abrasive, beatless breakdown disqualifies the piece as a club track, it does make one think about those scars, sounding like a torture room without an exit. And yet, Kamixlo did escape; the destruction may be to innocence, a frame of mind, an old circle of acquaintances. No matter the actual inspiration, we’re inspired by the crash and burn. (Richard Allen)Sun Oct 25 00:01:32 GMT 2020
If an album comes along that skirts around the structural boilerplate that a lot of electronic artists unconsciously or consciously adhere to then it’s probably worth a listen. Kamixlo’s new LP is one of those albums. Cicatriz is a collection of machine-wrought thumpers all polluted and befouled with monolithic kick drums and monstrously pitch-shifted vocals.
With traces of shaabi and krautrock, the album bounces between mesmeric grooves and dynamic structural feints and shifts. ‘Destruction’ initially seems like Kamixlo’s twisted take on a dub-techno track, full of wobble bass and with percussion from the same dungeon The Bug gets his from. Three minutes in, however, it gives way to a noisy dark ambient section that stands at odds with the tightly-wrought rhythms of the first half. ‘The Coldest Hello (Live From The Russian Spiral) feels like one long crescendo that starts off with an innocuous-sounding vocal sample before building towards a peak then falls away into a blitzed-out wash of reverb. These dynamic structural choices, not favouring a ‘drop’, or having a chorus, mean the tracks feel democratic.
Although this isn’t shaabi in any direct sense, there are still moments reminiscent of Islam Chipsy’s music such as the atonal melodies in ‘Azucar (Feat. Woesum), the rolling toms in ‘Poison’, and the warped, bucking kick drums that stretch throughout. Similarly, although the content is vastly different, the delivery of ‘The Burning Hammer Drop’, ‘DKD Lethal’, and ‘Sick’ are all reminiscent of Kosmiche Musik like Can or Amon Düül II. There’s a focus on timbre, groove, and arrangement rather than discernible harmony and melody.
Despite their giant, hulking quality, the tracks achieve a lot with fairly little. The noisy, dark ambient pad sounds that Kamixlo deftly weaves around the sparse base instrumentation, often only consisting of a few choice percussion and pad sounds, means it transcends the sum of its parts. ‘Sick’ does this with little more than an impish synth sound, some brute drum machine samples, and a chewy 303 bass sound.
Although Cicatriz is often enjoyably confrontational, the most interesting moments are where this aggression is disturbed. ‘Untitled’ is a welcome surprise. It sounds like a recording of a church organ playing some kind of wedding march but filtered through a crap radio. The chords are beautiful, sounding a bit like Stars Of The Lid getting into hauntology. I also love the nervy, trance-y buoyancy of ‘Demonic Y (Feat. Felix Lee)’; it seems almost sweet surrounded by the gnarled grandeur of the other tracks.
I tweeted something the other day half-joking about how I was writing about electronic music and so “must remember to call them ‘tracks’ and not ‘songs’”, but ironically I think this album might have been improved with a few vocalists. It might even be good to hear Kamixlo do something in the same vein of K.O., The Bug’s superb collaboration with Miss Red, a project completely focused around one vocalist. Despite this, Kamixlo's sonic barrage is onto a winning formula. Cicatriz simply revels in its own eldritch weirdness.
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