My Little Ghost
46:43 min • Flau Records/Project Mooncircle • May 9th, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
It’s often said that an album sounds like the time that was spent recording it. Gerard Roberts, better known as Kidkanevil, took the opportunity to make his latest work whilst immersing himself in Japanese culture. The musician and producer, originally from Leeds, made a move in 2010 to London where he met a Japanese beat-maker Daisuke Tanabe. The two instantly clicked and paired up for a collaborative album Kidsuke, an inspiring experiment combining Daisuke’s beats and Gerard fascination with toy instruments. Roberts notes a life-long desire to visit the homeland of his musical partner from a very young age, given his love of manga and anime art. When it came to promoting the album, the pair went on tour which included performances in the land of the rising sun. Once he felt inspired to work on new solo material, he relocated to Japan for six weeks in which he collaborated with other artists and producers, before putting his finishing touches on it back in London.
The vitality Roberts evidently felt during his stay in Japan unquestionably shines through on the album that emerged: My Little Ghost. The cover art, created by Kotaro Chiba, is a lead into the music within; detailed, bright and imaginative. Although the record is predominately instrumental, Kidkanevil structured these songs based on a story of “the ghost of a young soul, wandering about and curiously studying the surrounding, forever looking for answers”. The cover depicts a scene in which the album is set, in which the ghost finds herself “stranded on a lonely island in the midst of a chaotic metropolis”.
The opening song, aptly titled ‘All Is Lost’, paints the dreary landscape as the song’s synths slip in and out, like light reflecting from a rotating mirror. Its effect is enveloping and the emotion of the fragmented piano notes directs the emotion of its character in the foreign terrain. Given the protagonist is young girl, many of the songs and melodies on the record have a pure, almost innocent, perspective. His strong use of microbeats and xylophone, on the likes of ‘Tomie’ and ‘Oyasumi’, lend the album its soothing texture, and almost lullaby quality.
Yet, the album never comes to feeling like sleepy or dreamlike; it’s very much awake. ‘Dimension Bomb’ arrives early on with pulverising electronics; gradually ticking away as it bursts with bombastic noise. Elsewhere, ‘Shunkanido’ is based on this catchy piano line as he wraps, glitchy and springy noises, whilst, ‘Butterfly/Satellite’ rises with digital noises and hip hop beat, with the charismatic sample of a dog barking amid label-mate’s Cuushe endearing vocals. It’s moment like these that make you smile and can envision and feel the world that he aimed to create.
Kidkanevil’s compositions bubble and pop with a clear vision and innocent wonder. By the close of the album, My Little Ghost has come full-circle. Ending with the antithesis of the opening song, ‘All Is Not Lost’ brims with hope and a renewed opulence. This album radiates both with a sense of musicianship and the joy that Roberts felt making it. It is an often gentle listen, connecting his experimental idiosyncrasies and melodic talent, which will keep its listeners amused throughout.
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