Prepare to have your mind blown by Klein’s otherworldly debut album, Only, making an unforgettable introduction to her fractious, playfully warped mosaics of R&B pop, avant-garde electronics and contemporary, psychedelic gospel soul on Bristol’s Howling Owl Records.
It’s a feast of urbane imagination, coining a naturally complex, nuanced style of collaged composition that feels something like a more modern, London-based example of Matana Roberts’ travelogues hacked up by Mica Levi and D/P/I, or what might happen if Laurel Halo and Dean Blunt made a record together. Then again, all those analogies slide off just as easily as they’re applied; this is some highly distinguished, instinctively original stuff.
From the spliced 2-step and avant-operatics of Hello ft Samuel Jacob to the purple-hued chords of Shoutouts - to “all those bitches at St. Charles College, and Rita Ora, too” (youch!) - every beat, jarring edit, and juxtaposed sample is kerned, pitted and shaped for optimal, uncompromised expression in a manner normally befitting of some long-in-the-tooth psyche hermit. However, Klein is a young woman from London via Lagos and LA, and you get the impression she’s good for a laugh, rather than lentils and beard stroking.
In her world, bottom-heavy but skinny trap beats scroll into warped acid trapdoors, samples are recklessly sped up to the point of evaporation, and deliquescent R&B vocals are prone to taser-blasts of glitching electronics or extreme processing, layering growled drones with airy soprano in Christmas Thirst or diffracted into Inga Copland-styled ketholes in Babyfather Chill, whilst her ambiguous sense of humour really comes into play with the helium-vocalled pastor clashed against some heated argument and hollow drones in Marks of Worship.
Ah maaan, it’s just a lot, really. The sort of album that will totally mess with your headphone commute in the best way, or the kind that can genuinely spin out a room full of pals in the after after hours. It’s life-affirming music, basically.