Having come to wider attention with their song ‘Think’ appearing on the soundtrack of the 2014 Keanu Reeves action thriller ‘John Wick’, moody electronic duo KALEIDA opened their account with a six track EP of the same name.
Opening for Róisín Murphy on selected tour dated in 2015, vocalist Christina Wood and keyboardist Cicely Goulder followed-up with another EP ‘Detune’ in 2016.
The thoughtful brooding music of KALEIDA finally debuted in a long playing format with the acclaimed ‘Tear The Roots’ in 2017. Dark and introspective, as well as including ‘Think’, the album featured a cover of ’99 Luftballons’ which appeared in the Charlize Theron Cold War era spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’.
In 2020, the duo returned from hiatus with three singles ‘Other Side’, ‘Long Noon’ and ‘Feed Us Some’. With their second album ‘Odyssey’ having been released in the summer, KALEIDA very kindly took time out to speak about their career to date.
In many ways, KALEIDA are a perfect example of a modern electronic music act in that despite being continents apart, you are able to create and compose. How did you come together to make music?
A friend connected us over email, back when Christina was doing environmental work in Indonesia and looking for a music partner, and Cicely was studying film composition in London.
What were your common musical interests, but also where did you differ to help give KALEIDA such a haunting sound?
We both like choral music, and we’re both really into melody, which perhaps sets us apart from a lot of modern pop acts, which seem to be less into old-fashioned beautiful melodies and more into the talk-singing that is trendy right now. We both love electronic sounds too, the palette available – the harshness and darkness you can get from electronics. Cicely is really into rhythm generally, soul music, R&B and hip-hop, and I’m into folk. So it’s a strange combination!
How would you describe your creative dynamic on the ‘Odyssey’ album and how it has changed from when you released your first EP ‘Think’ in 2015?
We both felt sort of liberated to be less perfectionistic – because of the constraints of being together for short periods to record, having children and less time generally, and perhaps because we have reached a place of more confidence.
‘Think’ itself was chosen to be on the soundtrack of ‘John Wick’ which was an amazing break to get as a new act, when you produced it, was it obvious to you that it was something special?
To be honest, not really! It was one of the first tracks we did together. When Cicely had over the demo that she had finished producing, we were driving around in a taxi and listening on headphones, and it did occur to us that it had something special to it. But we had no idea that people would connect with it so much.
Did you have any reservations about how ‘Think’ was used in John Wick, because the movie and its sequels have a high body count? Did you ever find out if Keanu Reeves ever liked the song?
Yes, we’re really not into the violence and it’s definitely not our type of film, but we’re grateful for the exposure it has given us. We don’t know what Keanu thinks of the song but would love to, especially as he’s got his own band 🙂
You have become known for your unique covers and your stark reinterpretation of ‘99 Luftballons’ appeared in ‘Atomic Blonde’, another movie with a high body count, what inspired your arrangement as it is very different from Nena’s original?
The directors asked us to make an 80s cover for a film shot in Berlin around the fall of the wall and we thought of ‘99 Luftballons’ because it’s about the Cold War and in German. The lyrics are actually really beautiful and we wanted to bring out the sadness and truth in them, which you don’t get from the Nena version. We guess the way we covered it is also just typically KALEIDA!
‘Aliaa’ from the ‘Think’ EP appeared in the series ‘Wu Assassins’ on Netflix recently, it’s quite interesting that your music can be quite understated, minimalist and forlorn, yet is used in these action movies, what do you think is its appeal to film producers?
The contrast perhaps? The mysterious feminine quality to it?
Other songs you have covered include ‘A Forest’ and Take Me To The River’, what you do look for in a song when you decide to do a cover and are there any songs you would like try in the future?
‘A Forest’ was another one we got asked to do for a film, which didn’t end up being used, and we went rogue with it and did our own totally different version. ‘Take Me To The River’ we just loved and we ended up totally re-writing the chorus because we thought the original didn’t go anywhere musically.
In general, we try not to do too many covers as we want to focus on our original work, but there is a definitely a freedom in doing covers when you already have the framework of the song, which is fun to work with.
How do you look back on your first album ‘Tear The Roots’? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK loved ‘All The Pretty Pieces’ which was eerily hypnotic.
We’re really proud of that album as it was a big achievement for us – we made it all ourselves and it was our first LP. It was definitely darker than ‘Odyssey’ and represents a different time in our lives.
Had you conceived ‘Odyssey’ to be more of a natural progression of ‘Tear The Roots’ rather than a radical departure?’
Yes, we were just making the music that felt right to us with ‘Odyssey’.
The first ‘Odyssey’ single ‘Other Side’ captured the tension and loneliness of lockdown, both musically and visually, but what had it been originally inspired by?
It was about yearning for the beyond, about spiritual hope.
The album’s closing song ‘No Computer’ is quite unusual in that it’s like a kind of foreboding folk techno, how did that one come about?
That one started with one line and a simple beat, and it developed over several years. Cicely turned it into a synth jungle!
‘Long Noon’ has a real cinematic drama about it, was it inspired by the Patricia Chown play?
Hmm, we have never heard of that play and will look it up now! It wasn’t inspired by anything specific – just emotional impatience which seems to be something we suffer from…
What are your own particular favourite moments from ‘Odyssey’?
The journey of the title track, the quiet moment of ‘The News’, the maze of ‘No Computer’…
With everything going on, are you missing live work at the moment? Is it your natural forte or are you now by necessity, more of a studio duo?
Yes, we’re missing it a lot. It’s the chance to connect and for the music to come alive. It will be really special to get out there and perform again. It’s pretty much our favourite thing to do on earth – there’s a transcendent quality to the ritual union of live music that gives us a lot of meaning, helps us make sense of everything.
So what’s next for KALEIDA?
We’ve got some acoustic versions of our tracks in store and are planning a series of shows for next Summer and Autumn. Moscow is def on the list X
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to KALEIDA
UK/US-based electro pop duo KALEIDA comprising of vocalist Christina Wood and producer Cicely Goulder are best known for their song ‘Think’ which was featured in the major motion picture ‘John Wick’.
The other starting point for listeners new to the act would be to seek out their radical rework of NENA’s ‘99 Luftballons’ which takes the original bombastic synth rock track into a far more introspective direction, appearing on the soundtrack to the Cold War spy movie ‘Atomic Blonde’. ‘Odyssey’ is the second album by the duo and in places draws comparisons with the vocal stylings of FLORENCE & THE MACHINE and KOSHEEN’s Sian Evans.
The eponymously titled album opener provides a slow burning beginning with subtle piano textures and driving handclaps and bass. The single ‘Other Side’ follows next and is another slow builder with interjected Simmons drums and multi-layered vocals from Wood.
In the words of the band “This was one of those tracks that just had the feeling right from the start and expressed a kind of creative hope we were both feeling.” Slivers of vocal samples are intricately meshed with subtle synth lines, echoed percussion and a downtempo middle section which euphorically builds back into the chorus hook at the end.
What neatly differentiates KALEIDA from most of their electropop contemporaries is their refusal to rely upon ‘stock’ electronic sounds in their productions. Instead, keyboardist Goulder goes for a far more textured, reverb-driven approach and this certainly gives the band a more contemporary forward-looking edge with their production aesthetic. ‘The News’ is the most stripped back track on ‘Odyssey’; with the exception of some John Carpenter-style synth brass, the instrumentation is a mixture of pianos and strings and light reverbed drums.
‘Feed Us Some’ rhythmically takes its cues from Latin music with an opening syncopated piano bass riff and samples which cleverly take the listener on a virtual walk down a street with car horn sounds punctuating Wood’s vocals. The early half of the track is stripped back with an almost KRAFTWERK minimalism, there is no overproduction here and half-way through the introduction of a more electronic bass sound and reversed samples evoke the atmosphere of early UK Dubstep producer BURIAL. The South American vibe is continued to the track’s conclusion with more piano layers joining the production.
Just when it feels like ‘Odyssey’ would become overtly languid and downtempo, ‘Long Noon’ provides a welcome change of pace, upping the tempo with some 4/4 techno-styled drum machine programming and stabbing string synths. Wood’s “how long until your shadow meets the noon?” hook is arguably the strongest chorus vocal on the album and certainly helps to pull the album away from becoming too ambient and ‘backgroundy’ sounding.
After the slow-moving ‘Josephine’ and ‘Fake’, album closer ‘No Computer’ (possibly a dig at acts that get a little too sidetracked with their Digital Audio Workstations?) again re-shifts the album up a gear and introduces a Balearic electronic techno feel with Latin percussion. Featured sounds flit in and out and are swamped in large reverbs with the whole production beautifully mixed over the epic six minute length of its duration.
Throughout ‘Odyssey’, Christina Wood’s vocals are outstanding (not something that can be said of many current UK synth/electronic acts!), but are only hampered by how similar she sounds to other singers – the comparisons with Florence Welch and also in places Beth Gibbons from PORTISHEAD are hard to avoid making.
With electronic music becoming easier and easier to make with the proliferation of software and hardware available, what KALEIDA are doing here is admirable as they are trying hard not to follow the pack.
They have a definite sound, which the listener will either embrace wholeheartedly or move along as on an initial listen, it can be hard to differentiate between some of the tracks…
But those that do get sucked into their world will find much to love and the release of ‘Odyssey’ should see Wood and Goulder hopefully exposed to a much wider and more diverse audience.
“The medium of reinterpretation” as HEAVEN 17 and BEF’s Martyn Ware once put it, is still very much present in the 21st Century.
There have been albums of cover versions from the likes of SIMPLE MINDS, ERASURE, MIDGE URE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN celebrating their influences, as well as numerous various artists collections paying tribute to particular acts.
However, a newish phenomenon of covering an entire album has appeared in more recent years, something which MARSHEAUX, BECKY BECKY and CIRCUIT 3 have attempted on works by DEPECHE MODE, THE KNIFE and YAZOO respectively.
On the other side of the coin in recognition of the cultural impact of the classic synth era, the Anti-Christ Superstar MARILYN MANSON covered SOFT CELL’s cover of ‘Tainted Love’ but added more shouting, while DAVID GRAY took their own ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and turned it into a lengthy Dylan-esque ballad.
There has also been a trend for girl groups to cover songs from the period with GIRLS ALOUD, THE SATURDAYS and RED BLOODED WOMEN being among those introducing these numbers to a new younger audience.
So as a follow-up to the 25 Classic Synth Covers listing, here is a selection taken from reinterpretations recorded from 2000 to the present day, restricted to one song per artist moniker and presented in chronological order.
SCHNEIDER TM va KPTMICHIGAN The Light 3000 (2000)
Morrissey was once quoted as saying there was “nothing more repellent than the synthesizer”, but if THE SMITHS had gone electro, would they have sounded like this and Stephen Patrick thrown himself in front of that ten ton truck? Germany’s SCHNEIDER TM aka Dirk Dresselhaus reconstructed ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ to a series of minimal blips, blops and robotics to configure ‘The Light 3000’ with British producer KPTMICHIGAN.
A breathy Euro disco classic made famous by sultry Spanish vocal duo BACCARA, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s take on this cheesy but enjoyable disco standard came over like The Cheeky Girls at The Nuremburg rally! Now that’s a horrifying vision! All traces of ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ apart from the original lyrics were rendered missing in action as the stern Ms Goldfrapp played the role of the thigh booted dominatrix on this highly original cover.
When BLACK BOX RECORDER went on hiatus, Sarah Nixey recorded a beautifully spacey cover of JAPAN’s Ghosts with INFANTJOY whose James Banbury became her main collaborator on her 2007 debut solo album ‘Sing Memory’. Meanwhile the duo’s other member was none other than ZTT conceptualist Paul Morley. A POPULUS remix appeared on the ‘With’ revisions album while MIDI-ed up and into the groove, Nixey later also recorded THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘The Black Hit Of Space’.
Of this mighty industrialised cover, Ralf Dörper said: “When I first heard ‘The Anvil’ (‘Der Amboss’) by VISAGE, I thought: “what a perfect song for DIE KRUPPS” – it just needed more sweat, more steel. And it was not before 2005 when DIE KRUPPS were asked to play a few 25-year anniversary shows that I remembered ‘Der Amboss’… and as I was a big CLIENT fan at that time, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Fräulein B for assistance in the vocal department”.
Available on a self-released CD single for the band’s 25th anniversary tour, currently unavailable
Comprising of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST have described their music as “upbeat space-pop”. Much of their own material like ‘Klong’, ‘Alphabet’ and ‘Sleepwalker’ exuded a perfect soundtrack for those long Nordic nights. Meanwhile their ultra-cool cover of OMD’s ‘Messages’ embraced that wintery atmosphere, while providing a pulsing backbone of icy synths to accompany Peterson’s alluringly nonchalant vocal.
In this “Pink Floyd Goes To Hollywood” styled rework, Claudia Brücken revisited her ZTT roots with this powerful and danceable version of Roger Waters’ commentary on music business hypocrisy. ‘Have A Cigar’ showed a turn of feistiness and aggression not normally associated with the usually more serene timbres of Claudia Brücken and Paul Humphreys’ ONETWO project. But by welcoming pleasure into the dome, they did a fine cover version.
Budapest’s BLACK NAIL CABARET began life as an all-female duo of Emese Illes-Arvai on vocals and Sophie Tarr on keyboards, with their first online offering being a darkwave cover of RIHANNA’s ‘Umbrella’. Already very synthy in the Barbadian starlet’s own version, it showcased their brooding form of electro which subsequently impressed enough to earn support slots with COVENANT, DE/VISION and CAMOUFLAGE while producing three albums of self-penned material so far.
Liverpudlian easy listening crooner Michael Holliday was the second person to have a UK No1 written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the first being Perry Como with ‘Magic Moments’. His second UK No1 penned by Earl Shuman and Mort Garson was a romantic guilty pleasure. CHINA CRISIS pledged their Scouse Honour with this jaunty synth / drum machine driven rendition of ‘Starry Eyed’ layered with reverbed synthbass warbles and harmonious vocals from Messrs Daly and Lundon.
LITTLE BOOTS gave a dynamically poptastic rendition of Giorgio Moroder and Freddie Mercury’s only collaboration from 1984, retaining its poignant melancholic quality while adding a vibrant and danceable electronic slant. The recreation of Richie Zito’s guitar solo on synths was wondrous as was the looser swirly groove. While Victoria Hesketh didn’t have the voice of Mercury, her wispy innocence added its own touching qualities to ‘Love Kills’.
Yuck, it’s Chris Martin and Co but didn’t Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe do well? Merging possibly COLDPLAY’s best song with the synth riff from their own Latino disco romp ‘Domino Dancing’, ‘Viva La Vida’ was turned into a stomping but still anthemic number which perhaps had more touches of affection than PET SHOP BOYS‘ marvellous but allegedly two fingers Hi-NRG rendition of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. So altogether now: “Woah-oh, ooh-ooah!”
No strangers to raiding the Bowie songbook having previously tackled ‘Fame’ in 1981, DURAN DURAN however blotted their copy book with their 1995 covers LP ‘Thank You’. They refound their stride with the return-to-form album ‘All You Need Is Now’ but just before that, this superb reinterpretation of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ reconnected them to their New Romantic roots with washes of Nick Rhodes’ swimmy Crumar string machine, held down by a danceable beatbox and John Taylor’s syncopated bass runs.
This frantically paced cover of controversial neofolk band DEATH IN JUNE was recorded for the LADYTRON ‘Best Of 00-10’ collection and purposely uncredited. The antithesis of the midtempo atmospherics of ‘Gravity The Seducer’, this cutting four-to-the-floor romp was the last of the quartet’s in-yer-face tracks in a wind down of the harder ‘Velocifero’ era. With the multi-ethnic combo subverting the meaning of ‘Little Black Angel’, it deliberately bore no resemblance to the acoustic laden original.
‘The Eternal’ from ‘Closer’, the final album by JOY DIVISION, was one of the most fragile, funereal collages of beauty ever committed to vinyl. But in 2011, Brighton based songstress GAZELLE TWIN reworked this cult classic and made it even more haunting! Replacing the piano motif with eerily chilling synth and holding it together within an echoing sonic cathedral, she paid due respect to the song while adding her own understated operatic stylings.
On their only album ‘Lights & Offerings’, MIRRORS revealed an interesting musical diversion with this haunting take of a rootsy country number originally recorded by Karen Dalton. Written by the late Dino Valenti of psychedelic rockers QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, ‘Something On Your Mind’ was a touching ballad with its tortured yearning suiting the quartet’s pop noir aspirations. Ally Young said: “It was very nice for us to be able to apply our aesthetic to someone else’s song.”
Indie stoners THE XX had a minimalist approach to their sound which Andy McCluskey said was “really quite impressive”. This bareness made their material quite well suited for reworking in the style of classic OMD. ‘VCR’ had Paul Humphreys taking charge of the synths while McCluskey dusted off his bass guitar and concentrated on vocals. McCluskey added: “People go ‘how did OMD influence THE XX?’… but have you listened to ‘4-Neu’? Have you listened to some of the really simple, stripped down B-sides?”
Available on the EP ‘History Of Modern (Part I)’ via Blue Noise
As I SPEAK MACHINE, Tara Busch has been known for her haunting and occasionally downright bizarre live covers of songs as diverse as ‘Cars’, ‘Our House’, ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’. For a JOHN FOXX tribute EP which also featured GAZELLE TWIN, she turned ‘My Sex’, the closing number from the debut ULTRAVOX! long player, into a cacophony of wailing soprano and dystopian synths that was more than suitable for a horror flick.
Available on the EP ‘Exponentialism’ (V/A) via Metamatic Records
French theatrical performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp are NOBLESSE OBLIGE. Together, they specialise in a brand of abstract Weimer cabaret tinged with a dose of electro Chanson. Their lengthy funereal deadpan cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ highlighted the chilling subtext of the lyrics to its macabre conclusion! The synthesizer substitution of the original’s iconic twin guitar solo could be seen as total genius or sacrilege!
I AM SNOW ANGEL is the project of Brooklyn based producer Julie Kathryn; her debut album ‘Crocodile’ was a lush sounding affair and could easily be mistaken as a product of Scandinavia were it not for her distinctly Trans-Atlantic drawl. Already full of surprises, to close the long player, out popped a countrified drum ‘n’ bass take of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’! Quite what The Boss would have made of it, no-one is sure but it was quietly subversive and it certainly delivered the unexpected.
Reinterpreting any Bowie number is fraught with the possibility of negative feedback and MACHINISTA’s take on ‘Heroes’ set tongues wagging. Recorded as the duo’s calling card when experienced Swedish musicians John Lindqwister and Richard Flow first came together, electronic pulses combined with assorted synthetic textures which when amalgamated with Lindqwister’s spirited vocal, produced a respectful and yes, good version of an iconic song.
Comprising of frisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks, NIGHT CLUB simply cut to the chase with their enjoyable electronic cover of INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’. Here, the familiar guitar riff was amusingly transposed into a series of synth stabs before mutating into a mutant Morse code. It wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll but we liked it! Purists were horrified, but history has proved the best cover versions always do a spot of genre and instrumentation hopping.
The MARSHEAUX reworking of DEPECHE MODE’s second album ‘A Broken Frame’ shed new light on Martin Gore’s first long form adventure as songwriter and affirmed that numbers such as ‘My Secret Garden’ and ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’ were just great songs. But ‘Monument’ was an example of a cover outstripping the original and given additional political resonance with the economic situation close to home that the Greek synth maidens found themselves living in at the time of its recording.
Needing to be heard to be believed, this rather inventive and charming cover of THE CURE’s ‘Close To Me’ by Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND utilised a selection of male and female computer voice generators to provide the lead vocal, in a move likely to upset the majority of real music purists. Meanwhile, the hidden melodies shone much more brightly than in the goth-laden original, thanks to its wonderful and clever electronic arrangement.
One of DAILY PLANET’s main inspirations was cult UK synth trio WHITE DOOR, who released just one album ‘Windows’ in 1983. So when their chief synthesist Johan Baeckström was needing tracks to include on his ‘Like Before’ EP, the almost choir boy overtures of ‘Jerusalem’ was a natural choice for a cover version. Of course, this was not the first time Baeckström had mined the WHITE DOOR back catalogue as the more halcyon ‘School Days’ adorned the flip of his debut solo single ‘Come With Me’.
Forming in 2016, seasoned vocalist Gene Serene and producer Lloyd Price’s combined sound delightfully borrowed from both classic synthpop and Weimar Cabaret on THE FRIXION’s self-titled EP debut. From it, a tribute to The Purple One came with this touching take of his ‘Under The Cherry Moon’, highlighting PRINCE’s often hidden spiritual connection to European pop forms and recalling ‘The Rhythm Divine’, YELLO’s epic collaboration with Shirley Bassey.
Moody electronic duo KALEIDA first came to wider attention opening for RÓISÍN MURPHY in 2015. Covers have always been part of Christina Wood and Cicely Goulder’s repertoire with ‘A Forest’ and ‘Take Me To The River’ being among them. KALEIDA’s sparse rendition of NENA’s ‘99 Luftballons’ earned kudos for being very different and was included in the soundtrack of the Cold War spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’, hauntingly highlighting the currently relevant nuclear apocalypse warning in the lyric.
Moody electronic duo KALEIDA finally release their debut album ‘Tear The Roots’.
Having come to wider attention opening for RÓISÍN MURPHY on her European tour in 2015, vocalist Christina Wood and synthesist Cicely Goulder released two EPs ‘Think’ and ‘Detune’ in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The title song of the former release was included on the soundtrack of the 2014 noir action thriller ‘John Wick’; the thoughtful brooding synthpop of ‘Think’ contrasted the violence it accompanied. And ‘Think’ is the only track from those two EPs to adorn ‘Tear The Roots’.
But it all begins with an intriguing experiment in multi-layered staccato voices and inventive percussive textures entitled ‘Convolution’, which sees the forlorn melancholic voice of Wood take centre stage inside Goulder’s technological playground. The following ‘Echo Saw You’ also utilises an absorbing rhythmic template.
Of the ten brand new tracks on the long player, the wonderfully intense minimal house of ‘All The Pretty Pieces’ and its cacophony of CLANNAD styled vocals is one of the most immediate and a highlight of the set.
Meanwhile, the brooding electronic disco lento of ‘Division’ will be appreciated by anyone who loves SIN COS TAN’s ‘Trust’. Cut from a similar cloth, ‘Meter’ keeps the dance template minimal, procuring something that comparatively uptempo without being overbearing, as does ‘Coco’ with its strikingly subtle schaffel.
The album takes things down further with a piano-led ballad in ‘Free’ and no strangers to covers having already recorded ‘A Forest’ and ‘Take Me To The River’, KALEIDA’s sparse rendition of NENA’s ‘99 Luftballons’ will polarise, but it earns kudos for being very different. Included in the recent Cold War spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’, it fully projects the currently relevant nuclear apocalypse warning that was lost on many back in the day.
‘House Of Pulp’ adds an almost folk tinged dimension to the synthetic lattice while on the emotive closing title song, a beautiful string section makes its presence felt.
With shades of sisters-in-arms like EMIKA and KITE BASE, in ‘Tear The Roots’, KALEIDA have successfully cultivated a curious mystique with their contemplative sound, capturing the existential dilemmas of the human condition and the unsettling nature of the modern world.
London based duo KALEIDA first gained wider attention while supporting RÓISÍN MURPHY on her 2015 European tour.
Some have compared vocalist Christina Wood and synthesist Cicely Goulder to PURITY RING, AUSTRA and LADYTRON. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK thinks their brooding demeanour is more akin to BLACK NAIL CABARET, EMIKA and early EURYTHMICS.
Formed in 2013, Goulder had been working in the film industry and her contacts no doubt helped KALEIDA’s first single ‘Think’ to be considered for inclusion on the soundtrack of the 2014 noir action thriller ‘John Wick’, starring Keanu Reeves. With hints vocally of LONDON GRAMMAR and KOSHEEN, the thoughtful synthpop approach of ‘Think’ contrasted the violence it accompanied. It became the title track to their eventual EP issued in April 2015.
From it, the almost spritely ‘Tropea’ maintained the standard of ‘Think’, with a bass synth motif seemingly borrowed from the middle section JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s ‘Second Rendez-Vous’. Meanwhile ‘Aliaa’, a tribute to women’s rights activist Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, showcased their developing downtempo sound and a haunting drum machine driven reinterpretation of AL GREEN’s ‘Take Me To The River’ illustrated the breadth of their musical knowledge and a knack for inventive cover versions.
While some acts have been trying to make a big noise about themselves after just a handful of singles, KALEIDA have been biding their time, letting the music and visuals do the talking for them. They have gradually and carefully built up a mystique that provokes curiosity.
From their recently released second EP ‘Detune’, the marvellous ‘It’s Not Right’ stands head and shoulders above much of the output that has been released independently in the UK during the last 18 months. With a contemplative atmosphere providing resonance, a spike in tempo utilising sequences and variation in percussive colours provides an access point for those intrigued by KALEIDA.
The deeper stance displayed on ‘Aliaa’ makes its presence felt on the mellow title track and ‘Power’; both show a close affinity with EMIKA, with the prominent use of multi-layered voices, sub-bass and inventive percussion programming on the former.
However, be prepared for a surprise with the vocal arrangement for THE CURE’s ‘A Forest’, which is almost from the folk tradition and barely recognisable from the original.
KALEIDA are in the studio to record their debut album for 2017 release. Based on the evidence of the two EPs so far, it will be eagerly anticipated.