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.