Wisdom Teeth co-founder K-LONE returns with his second full length project, ‘Swells’: a kaleidoscopic and expansive record that looks to deep house, synthpop, leftfield R&B and beyond for a spellbinding masterwork of melodic electronica.
His debut LP ‘Cape Cira’ became the accidental soundtrack of the long strange summer of 2020 - its lush marimbas, hazy atmos and synthesised bird calls providing the ideal soundtrack for some much needed collective escapism. The record was widely deemed one of 2020’s standout electronic LPs, gaining glowing reviews in Pitchfork, DJ Mag, Mixmag and Resident Advisor, and ranking highly in end of year lists by Crack Magazine, Bleep.com and beyond.
Approaching its follow up, the Brighton-based producer felt a fresh perspective was needed. Originally landing on the name ‘Swells’ as a secret pen-name to write the record under, the intention was to keep the project as separate as possible from ‘Cape Cira’ to avoid settling into familiar territories - but as the record took shape it became clear that it made perfect sense amongst his already diverse discography.
Like ‘Cape Cira’, there is a distinct and intentionally limited sound palette at play on ‘Swells’. Looping vocal cuts, rich cluster chords and undulating arpeggios sit front and centre here - as does the lo-fi plonk of of the CR78 drum machine. But while the record clearly takes influence from a range of vintage sound sources, its overall aesthetic is unmistakably contemporary. Sounds are not artificially degraded nor obscured under washes of sampled tape hiss. Rather, everything is processed with a gloss, hi-fidelity sheen. The record’s rhythms are bright, dry and snappy, and its melodies are processed with a neon poppy glow.
The producer’s unabashed love of contemporary pop music is most obviously exemplified by the appearance of British singer-songwriter Eliza Rose. The pair met for a session at a North London studio back in 2021, and the now Brit Award-nominated singer’s warm, emotive vocal takes became an immediate source of inspiration early in the record’s conception. As such, Rose’s voice is heard in various states of manipulation throughout its duration - initially as reduced and looped phrases, and then finally in full form on ‘With U’: a low-lit, dubbed-out slice of leftfield R&B that beckons comparisons with Tirzah, Little Dragon and even Erykah Badu.
Elsewhere, there are references to G-Funk (‘Oddball’), Autonomic drum and bass (‘Shimmer’), hip-house (‘Love Is’) and even Metronomy-era electro pop (‘Love Me A Little’).
As always, the true magic of K-LONE’s artistry is to present complex, subtle and original ideas in ways that feel familiar and immediate. Melodies are introduced as effortless earworms, only to be twisted out of shape into strange and unusual formulations. Looping rhythms unspool into washes of hazy, dubbed-out ambience before rebuilding themselves. Refined and endlessly creative, ‘Swells’ marks a captivating next step for a producer and record label that have both reliably positioned themselves at the very forefront of contemporary electronic music.