Thursday, June 15, 2006

CALIKA: The Bright Spot

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CALIKA: The Bright Spot (Benbecula, 2006)

The excellent Benbecula imprint, home of Christ., Prhizzm and Reverbaphon to name but a few, has been putting out some rather interesting ultra-limited CDRs in its Mineral Series. Now in its second batch of releases, the Mineral Series came out of a desire from the label to get back to its roots and publish homemade records.

Joining the ranks is Calika’s Simon Kealoha, who was recently spotted on Audiobulb with his excellent debut album, Small Talk Kills Me, and alongside former Seefeel mastermind Mark Clifford on Running Taper (Polyfusia). The Bright Spot continues where Small Talk Kills Me left off, as Kealoha combines acoustic and electric instrumentation with sharp electronic treatment, yet this new offering also sees the man exploring a wider musical scope. Clearly digging into his love of jazz and hip-hop, Kealoha shows here a more direct approach to both sonic and melodic structures and engages in more accessible, yet equally genre-bending, experiments.

The opening track, Enriched By Sea Minerals, is a fine example of how the Calika sound is exposed on here in its raw form. Here, Simon Kealoha begins by applying a thin layer of electronics before injecting processed live drums and softening the blow with an acoustic guitar, creating very compartmented atmospheric sections within which he develops micro-melodies. Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Not Quite Here is very similar in concept, with elements of folk finding their way through the assemblage of found sounds, statics and glitches before the whole thing eventually collapses as a muffled piano traces a captivating melody over a lingering sonic haze in the background.

On You Little Brute and Max And Louie, Kealoha opts for more accessible templates, first by crafting a slightly psychedelic melody and applying some heavy hue to it, then by switching to a rather infectious pop/folk tune wrapped up around delicate guitar arabesques, earthy hip-hop infused beat and gentle glitches.

Elsewhere, Kealoha explores vaporous ambient formations, applies delicate processed found sounds and develops wonderfully evocative melodies to build on the overall atmospheric nature of this album. Compositions such as Four Dummies, with its slow-morphing tones stretching over its nine minutes, the quirky Of Places With 6 Floors or the aerial Salt Mists all offer a different facet to Calika, yet remain so close to Kealoha’s core sound that it never affects the gentle flow of the album as a whole. The Bright Spot is a superb follow up to Calika’s debut and a welcome addition to Benbecula’s Mineral Series.

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