Katie Kim’s “Cover & Flood”, a Serious Album from a Proper Musician.

Katie Kim "Cover & FLood"The wonderfully evocative “Heavy Lighting” (here), which now appears as track 7 on Katie Kim’s second album Cover & Flood, was released as a split single last year together with a Laura Sheeran track. They both performed on the same set at the excellent pop-up event curated by Donal Dineen at last year’s Dublin Contemporary, which I reviewed here earlier.

Sheeran and Kim are part of that new breed of musicians who begin by making use of this dizzying digital revolution that we are all in the midst of to produce impressively finished music from their bedrooms, using little more than a laptop and whatever instruments they happen to have to hand.

When they then begin to perform on stage, they are forced to use the few tools that they are able to carry themselves onto stage in increasingly complex ways, as they are faced with the reality of trying to hold onto an audience’s attention with extraordinary limited resources.

What tends to result is that they learn to produce increasingly involved layers of sound by distorting their voice and instruments, both electronically and digitally, to draw the audience in through what becomes a form of ritual, rhythmic hypnosis.

The problem is, that it’s far from simple to re-translate that sound back onto disc once they return to the studio. What was captivating on stage, can often sound a little dull and repetitive, a tad samey.

So it’s hugely gratifying to be able to report that as hypnotic as she is on stage, Katie Kim is every bit as alluring now that she’s returned to the recording studio in between all that inevitable touring. And impressively, despite being apparently produced in her bedroom, her second album is an even more expansive and confident affair than her first, Twelve, from 2008.

If the sound she produces live can best be referenced by Coco Rosie and Mazzy Star, on disc it’s a slightly more measured affair. A little less primal perhaps, but more panoramic in its stead, and a lot more ambitious in its scope.

There is some distortion and feedback, but on many of the tracks you get the quieter more nuanced sound of Stina Nordenstam, or Joanna Newsom, but without the latter’s angst or sense of struggle. Whilst a track like “Dummer” has clear echoes of Julianna Barwick, reviewed here earlier, with those waves of sound that wash over you and draw you so pleasurably into their depths.

This is a serious album from a proper musician producing a complex, eclectic and singular sound. If there’s a better, more accomplished album produced in Ireland this year, I shall be very surprised indeed.

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