May 7, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: KaapiN - KaapiN (2013)

With so much going on, you think Rotsanjani Mojica (synths, beats, noise, glitch) and Michael Nuesca (vocals, glockenspiel, melodic) would mess it up big time, dressing up their work with half-finished sketches and painfully shapeless hooks that hover on most post-internet records as of late. Luckily, you barely need 15 minutes running time with the new KaapiN record to fully understand how committed they are in producing glitchy, almost flawless electro-pop affair compelled with gripping ideas and processed wizardry. Instead of wasting precious time on experiments that aren’t substantial enough to hold your attention, KaapiN provides a gleaming glimpse of the possibilities and impossibilities of homemade laptronica music, adding an ethereal yet humanly dimension to an otherwise robotic hostile.

The EP opens with the two-punch knockouts “Movements” and “Taxi Taxi,” both spaced-out ambient jams layered with haunting vocal arrangements and lush, digital burbles. It’s fascinating to hear Michael’s pitched up vocals stretched to gorgeously vertiginous effect; somehow, it contributes to the esoteric earnestness of the record, which so much reminds me of Purity Ring and Grimes. The pace slows down a bit with “Freedom,” a grainy, witch house experiment built around glockenspiels, ambient samples, ghostly hushes and noise. I personally prefer not including this track on the EP, as it sounds more like unnecessary clutter than an actual song.

On a positive note, the Cebu-based IDM/glitch-pop duo picks up with “Everyone’s The Same” and gloriously marches toward vibrancy and androgyny, all at equal swing, channeling Claire Boucher’s elfish mannerisms to strangely heavenly result. Rotsanjani complements Michael’s airy vocal gymnastics just as he gamely exposes their kaleidoscopic pop sensibilities in between tension and breeze, with the desire to do something more in touch with dreams than reality. The last track, “Hear Me” surprisingly ends the cryptic chasms of KaapiN’s debut EP with a warmer, more structured indie-pop luminacy, camouflaged like the lone crossover track that alternative radio might consider playing.

All in all, KaapiN is in for some great start, with innovative sonic sketches at play. And in today’s Soundcloud era, post-internet pop landscape, they were able to embrace electronic music trends effortlessly while also shredding some layers of it, making a record so recognizably theirs that it’s hard not to get smitten by its traces of inherent charisma and oddity.  B+ 

You can stream the entire EP below via ndfy.me, and puchase the tracks on the duo's official bandcamp site.

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