Boomkat Product Review:
Klein swiftly trails this year's brilliant "Cave in the Wind" with another dizzying full-length, a labyrinthine, anti-ambient patchwork of carnivalesque vocal manipulations, grizzled basement noise, shimmered textures, auto-piano sketches and psychedelic kosmische concréte. There's no-one else doing it like this...
The album plays like a cracked, tarnished mirror of its predecessor, replacing long-form expression with tighter, more explosive and sometimes completely freeform transmissions. Where "Cave in the Wind" opened with almost 30 minutes of gravelly neo-classical, "Star in the Hood" begins with the relatively brief 'mommy's girl', cycling ghost drones, dialog and piano motifs that blur into thrumming, heartfelt noise. 'black star' is all loping, looping piano and chthonic vocals spiked with cheese-grater noise and chipmunked chirps. But it's Klein's delirious vocal runs that push this one to the next level; like her style-defining earliest releases "Lagata" and the Hyperdub-released "Tommy", this one subverts the raw material that makes up R&B, turning memorable hooks into blurry impressions. The track leads out with a performance that glues itself to your mind like a diva moment on a Suburban Bass cut.
Klein keels into longform on 'schooled', fogging organ drones into ketty clouds that gust into imposing shapes over the 10-minute duration, rekindling the dialog between contemporary noise and gospel music. Grandiose classical sounds receive a similar drag on 'Friend in the Mirror', pulled into disorienting shapes that dispel any notions of class gatekeeping; in the final third, Klein's voice interrupts the mood, before machine-gun percussion reminds us not to get too comfortable. If yr in search of beauty, 'postcode wars' is the cure for what ails you, with Klein fuzzing euphoric chord drops into an afterparty vapor of half-heard voices and dribbling synths. She simultaneously channels rapture and wrath, poignantly torching the contemporary British societal skeleton without losing her near-at-hand community in the process.
Midway through the album there's a clear thematic pivot signaled by the brief 'shorty alert', a trilling mass of carnivalesque vocal quirks that sounds like spiders spitting DMT into yr eardrums. From here things get darker and more unsettling: there's doomed subterranean ambience on 'signed and delivered' that's punctuated by Disney-esque piano motifs, blown-out lo-fi outsider rawk on 'Swerve', and speaker garbling free eccentric soul on 'brand new day', each struck through with Klein's unmistakable high-vs-low culture posturing. It all brings us to the album's unsettling one-two punch of 'haha hehe business', maybe the foamiest track we've heard from her this year, and the zonked 'winter' - a track that's as crystal clear as Klein gets, an unprocessed heartstring-tugging vocal performance over canned acoustic guitar twangs.
Once again we're stunned into abstraction by Klein - she's followed one of the best things we've come across this year with a record that re-contextualizes it and forces us to reconsider everything. It's music that defines our era, no less.