Kid Koala & Emiliana Torrini Drawn Together

Kid Koala is sort of an enigma. The DJ has made music for Deltron 3030, Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modeling School, has been featured in soundtracks like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Great Gatsby, and has gone on solo tours with Radiohead and Bjork. The Canadian turntablist splits his aesthetic between more mainstream sounds and weirder, more challenging structures. His latest album, Music to Draw To: Satellite, leans more toward the latter. But with help from Emiliana Torrini, the album stays just south of drone for a listen that is atmospheric and subtle.

Because Music to Draw To: Satellite is such an ambient record, it is hard to pull example songs–each track beautifully washes into the next. Instead, the record seems structured in groups of songs. The first group (the first four songs) spin with more minimal instrumental tracks. Kid Koala stays in the background, layering a musical armature for Torrini to build her vocal melodies over. The feel of this first group is very reminiscent of Sigur Ros’ Untitled in terms of sound and tone. Sparkling drones and cut back percussion give this first grouping a very mellow vibe.

From this first group, Music to Draw To: Satellite begins to build its energy. Kid Koala’s sounds become more apparent, more filled with motion. That said, this description is definitely a comparative. Throughout the album, there isn’t much change from start to end, but Kid Koala and Emiliana Torrini subtly change the sound to create muted turns and slight juxtapositions.

This group comes to a head with “Collapser.” With some of the most upbeat sampling of the record, the track is a bit of light caught in space. Emiliana Torrini’s vocals diffuse as if through a tin can mic, cutting lows and highs to give her naturally haunting voice a more melancholic jab. “Collapser” does well to reference the album’s title sonically. It’s whooshing undertones and distant feel seems to recall satellite transmissions while staying within the aesthetic of mellowed-out music.

The back third of Music to Draw To: Satellite takes its cue from “Collapser”–spinning out more uplifting, brighter soundscapes. That said there is an unbreachable melancholy that runs through this third and the rest of the album. Kid Koala and Emiliana Torrini orchestrated the record to have a taste of sadness that doesn’t overpower the other elements–which is a hard feat to pull off and acts as a testament to both artists’ ability to use subtly in fantastic ways.

Is Music to Draw To: Satellite a great album for everyone and every occasion? Probably not. The record is glacial and swelling. Is Music to Draw To: Satellite a great album for chilling out, for studying, for drawing? Absolutely. When it comes to ambient soundscapes, this record is one of the more interesting listens as of late.

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