Boomkat Product Review:
cktrl coolly defines a sound in the space between pre-electric modal jazz, avant-R&B, and ambient classical with grandly staged, yet introspective, instrumental orchestrations.
‘Yield’ follows from the London-based clarinetist/saxophonist’s standout EP ‘Zero’ (2022) with a more concerted focus on stripping it all back to author an original sound. Placing the clarinet in acres of widescreen space against sweeping strings, keys and the wordless vocals of Ophie, he colours his canvas with a palette of richly nocturnal blues and purple instrumental tones that recall the most sublime Don Cherry works which would in turn inspire Jon Hassell and summon Bohren und Der Club of Gore’s duskiest gear.
Stemming from a period of grief and heartbreak that prompted him to reevaluate his music, and galvanised by a desire to change the narrative around contemporary British Black music, cktrl reordered his sound from the ground up with luxurious yet self-contained results, swaying back and forth between purely instrumental expression and two standout vignettes with Ophie, whose aching cadence matches the music most beautifully, reminding of serpentwithfeet on the heart-in-mouth suspense of ‘Lucidly’, and cradled in bluest ambient jazz soul space on ‘Love + War’.
But cktrl is the star of the show throughout, from the opening shimmer of keys and lonesome sax on ‘Yield’, opening up to unspoken emotions in centrepiece ‘Night I Pine’ with a psychedelic soul shades away from certain Klein works, before tying it off with a ribbon in the programmatic 9 minute closing sequence ‘Marcescent’, seamlessly eliding Alice Coltrane like symphonic strings and operatic soul vocals with his pealing sax in a unique form of baroque jazz soul.