Long-time computer game music composer Jukio Kallio has also been putting out some of his own individual works in the last few years. This has culminated in the full-length album ‘Kuabee Music’ which showcases a variety of talents.
Whilst Kuabee Music is a genre hopper, the mainstay is often something electronic. ‘Naze’ kicks off the album like a percussive boss theme before taking a left turn into something Son Lux would create when Jukio’s voice joins in. It effortlessly moves between sublime swinging electronica and poised, pointed vocal spats. ‘Happy People’ moves the album towards Royksopp’s Junior album with marching drums, funky basslines, cheesy vocal riffs and disco keyboards. There’s even an electric guitar solo section. The song is a pure celebration, one that’s carried through into ‘Sa Oot Olemassa’ with its South American bongos and wirey synths.
The album then makes another left turn transition into vocal-led melodies. The most abstract of these is the superb ‘Move’. Against a rainy soundscape, Jukio Kallio uses his voice to create various synth bells, moany basslines and then a warped barbershop quartet against a melancholy sadtronica trudge. On the flipside ‘Getting on a Bus is My Stage’ feels like a warped Imogen Heap track lost in translation. Kallio’s voice is bent and twisted around the bass and drums and then mixed with tuned percussion to create a juvenile bliss. ‘You Will Be’ relies heavily on echoed vocoder effects to provide the basis for its late-night chilled electronica vibe. It’s as close as the album gets towards anything remotely single structured and maybe a good starting place for those new to Jukio’s work.
The album isn’t quite done though and takes a turn towards Bibio with analogue sounding arpeggios translating into a dancefloor filler. ‘What Is Happening’ is a club classic in waiting for this space whereas ‘Free’ takes from some of Kallio’s game music tropes and translates them to a late-night bop. Think Knightstown or SOHN in terms of style and you’ll be there.
I’m aware of the amount of more mainstream artists I’ve referenced throughout this review but I’ve done this to show Jukio Kallio’s range. He doesn’t stay still and merges chunks of style together cohesively. ‘Kuabee Music’ is fascinating as not one track wants to be the big single but they all get under your skin after a few listens. This feels like an artist enjoying being free to explore and enjoy and every beat of each bar translates this to the listener. An underground gem.
Recommended track: You Will Be
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