Reggaeton’s answer to Burial, Kelman Duran follows up his amazing ’1804 Kids’ album with a truly epic new LP of textured, emotive dembow, hip hop mutations and field recordings inspired by time spent on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. Completely blown away by this one...
‘13th Month’ is titled after the Lakota Native American community’s 13 month lunar calendar. It’s arguably a perfect title to reflect the poignant, mystic appeal of Kelman’s music, evoking a unique perception of time that’s key to his mix of ancient, rooted rhythmic nous and forward/sideward looking arrangements of cut ’n paste textures, voices and haunting electronics.
Like Burial, Kelman has an uncanny ability to connote an otherness and transport us into his headspace. With ’13th Month’ he offers something akin to a spiritual memory upgrade, using fine tuned powers of intuition to fluidly sculpt richly impressionistic scenes evoking the trampling fervour of the Ghost Dance, but purposely transposed to downtrodden people and sites of worship in the here and now.
Opening with a couplet of scrolling, collaged panoramas in ’13th Month in 3 Movements’ and ‘CLUB 664B’ that surely recall the more recent, expansively cut-up nature of Burial records, Kelman continues to map out a mosaic of more succinct pieces, grouting stripped down club rhythms with brooding moments of introspection and a spectrum of voices, from urgent to mournful and frankly alien Latinx styles.
And to use the Burial analogy respectfully again, like the South Londoner’s patented 2-step, Kelman’s dembow mutations are integral to the push and pull of his music. While it may take a bit of imagination to slot some of them in-the-mix, their brittle, skeletal structure and rugged function only heightens the inexorable yet sore, vulnerable appeal of his arrangements.
Perhaps the strangest element of this whole record for us, is the way it feels like we’ve heard it before - it’s so familiar, in a trippy, dreamlike sense. And maybe cheesy as it sounds, we’ve felt that deja vu before with first listens of Autechre’s ‘Incunabula’, AFX’s ‘SAW’ volumes, and the Burial albums, and it’s an instinct we’ve learned to listen to. There’s no mistaking this album is an absolute blinder. One of 2018’s very best.