KMRU “Logue”

Across long stretches of KMRU’s brilliant Logue, electronic sounds become tangible landscapes bathed in prismatic light. Synesthesia flickers through vivid colors teeming with organic aural ecosystems as KMRU explores unexpected sonic combinations spread across nine memorable tracks. For one of the planet’s most compelling ambient musicians, Logue pushes into fresh directions as he explores new pathways to bring this intensely personal expression to life.

I love how KMRU seamlessly weaves field recordings from Kenya and East Africa into his synthetic sound worlds. Of course these natural sounds aren’t new to ambient music, but he does it in surprising ways. With the stunning “A Meditation of Listening,” birds and insects dance with bubbling arpeggios, blurring lines between the artificial and the real. It doesn’t matter where one begins and the other ends as it’s all part of the same system. Repetitive chords outline buried memories, obscured behind painful experiences that are trying to surface. As minimal rhythms gradually roll into view, the bass gets louder, letting you know this isn’t something that can be ignored any longer. The field recordings shift, a door creaks and closes, and the tension lifts. You’ve made it through. Soft, sweet synth notes open up and let the light stream in.

Morning approaches after a long night on “Argon.” Huge synth swells drift away, burned off like fog, so ringing sequences can rise up and give into the growing anxiety. KMRU’s music often lives on this knife edge between catharsis and paralyzation. Pieces like “11” have a lightness and freedom to them, bobbing along like clouds catching rays, where “OT” is apprehensive. The latter’s pulsing layers remind me of Ricardo Donoso’s earlier work, but the underlying strings and African street sounds add a new, unexpected layer. 

Throughout Logue, KMRU pulls the reins tight. His songs are dialed in and precise, only showing as much as necessary so the audience gets to where he wants them to go. When the kosmische-tinged arpeggios of the title track repeat into infinity, a calm control emerges. Yes, this world is full of terrible things, but small moments of levity and kindness make all the difference; a belly laugh on “OT” or the soothing water sounds of “Und” bring us back to center, ready to face down the darkness again. Logue is an incredible record from one of the best.