‘Lifetime’ is the debut album proper by visionary collagist/producer/vocalist Klein, following from 2016’s head-spinning introduction made with ‘Only’. Recorded by Klein over the past 18 months and issued on her own label, inj inc., the album renders her mosaic of ideas taken from Gospel composer James Cleveland to film pioneer Spencer Williams and 18th C. tonalities in dreamlike 3D, and elevates her form of abstract, contemporary spirituality to quietly jaw-slapping degrees.
Where Klein’s earliest album seemingly came out of nowhere and left us grasping for precedents and cues, ‘Lifetime’ is confidently presented as Klein’s master opus and an unambiguous product of both her religious upbringing and current mindstates, making explicit reference to “the King of Gospel Music” composer James Cleveland and the groundbreaking endeavours of American jazz and pop composer, singer and pianist Spencer Williams, whose approaches to music, art and form patently resonate with Klein’s, and have concretely paved the way for her music.
The results, self-described as “giving someone your diary” are perhaps surprisingly shy of Klein’s physical voice. Instead she focusses on the mix of oneiric and hyper-realistic sound-scaping which has long distinguished her music from the crowd, and tends to use the voices of others, from samples to field recordings and a collaboration with conceptual sister Matana Roberts, to express herself literally. And it’s perhaps Matana Roberts’ own music that provides the strongest comparison for ‘Lifetime’, as Matana’s epoch-spanning, travelogue-style ‘Coin Coin’ chapters share much in common with Klein’s deep topographical reading of her own ontology, and the way their shared exploration of lineage has lead their respective musics to similar conclusions.
It’s fair to say that knowing exactly what the music is supposed to reflect alters the listener’s perception, and ‘Lifetime’ somehow brings Klein’s music closer to an autobiographical stage-play with accompanying pamphlet of notes. In that context Klein the character depicted on the cover plays the role of both actor, writer, director, and set designer; a metamorphic constant as the album seamlessly transitions between scenes of instrumental, textural dialogue and and candid snapshots of reality, featuring her and friends reacting live to a news report.
Between the combustible disjuncture of amniotic ambient, brute digital noise and naif glossolalia in ‘Lifetime’ thru the chamber-like trap of ‘Claim It’ to the incredible, Lynchian expanse of ‘Honour’, and a gripping collage recalling Deathprod-meets-Firewire in ‘Never Will I Disobey’, she establishes immersive conditions that bring her art to life in the most vivid way, presenting her music at its most oblique yet vulnerable, and defined yet open-ended, speaking as much to her personal condition as a hypermodern state of cognitive/cultural/spiritual dissonance experienced by her generation.