After listening to Cape Cira, it’s possible you might be left wondering just where exactly in the world the album was created. Its genesis seems more likely tied to springtime sessions at some ethereal studio by a Japanese zen garden as opposed to Bristol during a miserable British winter. It speaks to the talent of Josiah Gladwell aka K-Lone that his debut LP prompts this kind of daydreaming.
Whilst there are no doubts about the quality of K-Lone’s production, questions about where he sits on the spectrum of electronic music provoke a variety of responses. His past releases on Idle Hands and Wisdom Teeth (the label he runs along with Facta) resist easy categorisation, moving fluidly between garage, breaks, techno and dubstep but usually with one eye firmly on the dance floor. Those expecting a continuation of this trend on the new album will be slightly surprised by the route taken, but rest assured it is a detour thoroughly worth exploring.
Cape Cira’s reduced emphasis on bass allows a myriad of softer acoustic and percussive sounds to take centre stage, effortlessly sliding in and out of each song at will. If the first three tracks are slightly interchangeable, once Gladwell swerves away from 4/4 is when the record comes to life.
Warm bells, fresh synthy keys and what sounds like a xylophone (but almost certainly isn’t) are always at the heart of things. Whilst K-Lone has experimented with polyrhythms before (most recently on 2019’s Missed Calls), this album is far softer than anything he has produced in the past – so light it feels like it could weightlessly take off at any moment.
Remember how satisfying that bamboo water feature sounded in Kill Bill’s garden showdown? Imagine that kind of lushness repeated for birds, crickets, wind and moreover forty-eight minutes and you’ve got a decent idea of how well crafted the background noise is on this album. Which isn’t to say it’s just for show. The sublime ‘In The Pines’ uses these sounds brilliantly, building a wondrous cocoon that utterly envelops your ears before sliding away again.
Cape Cira is a sumptuous record that pulls together different and softer strands of K-Lone’s production skills that have glimmered beneath the surface but never been presented in such a bold way before. It makes you wonder what his next step will be: music for the club, the clouds or somewhere in-between.