Mother Nature opened a chill out spa for devils
For the last few years, Kalya Scintilla has held a very unique space in my music. Kalya mixes new age instrumentation together with meditation drones and heavy electronica. The result of which is a manic mix of zen thoughts and feelings and often a beat you can’t stop grooving to. Kalya Scintilla keeps things organic and a bit strange to ensure that he never falls into the trap of cheesy cliche and ‘Gaian Code’, his latest album, shows exactly why he does this so well.
‘Gaian Code’ above everything else is a sonic story. Starting out with ‘In the Beginning’ we hear modern-day city noises and technology beeps getting progressively laborious before we move to the forest. Chainsaws are revving as wood cracks and heartbeats quicken. A male moan and cry signals that something is wounded and it is from there that the sonic story begins… complete with spoken word sections from ‘Evoke’ who speaks like an ancient wise woman (GAIA I imagine).
Each track moves you through an amalgamation of electronic and organic instruments of the course of its 1hr 40 minute run. This is a feature-length adventure! ‘The Unfurling’ is a bass and beat-heavy electronica piece with digeridoos and tuned balaphone-like synths. ‘Primordial’ spits and oozes bass notes like an industrial track. The notes bend and twist whilst bent glass noises give an upper edge. ‘Fire Heart’ brings in tom drums for even more of a dramatic effect. Throughout all of this, Kalya Scintilla uses lots of atmospheric records in the background such as fire, bubbling water and so on. It really adds to the atmosphere. The atmosphere across the entire album is one of dark arts and danger. The bass is always prominent. The drums are harsh and aggressive like in ‘Earth Element’ where so much wooden percussion is used to carve out a groove.
Four guest performers join in across the album aside from Evoke’s narrative. Marya Stark guest vocals for the superb ‘Water Is Life’. Water drops are transformed into beats and synths and the trip-hop track lets Marya’s voice simply glide over the top. The superb Irina Mikhailova guests for ‘Ha’ which is full of beautifully tuned percussion bells. ‘Gaia’ features Youssoupha Sibide on the kora. I adore the kora as an instrument and Sibide integrates it perfectly for possibly the standout track on the album. The fourth guest is Estas Tonne on the penultimate piece ‘Evolution’. Estas plays the guitar here to give things a dusty Americana desert vibe.
Elsewhere ‘Ether’ provides a serene moment of clarity with beautiful strings and synths, ‘Being Stone’ feels like we’re making beats but smashing out feet into mud and ‘Plantlife’ takes cues from South America with so many jungle noises overlaid onto the beats and swirls. Kalya Scintilla has a penchant for bent note dulcimer like noises and ‘Animalia’ plays with this and bird song as they call and respond back. ‘Human-a-key’ plays with music boxes and beats – taking the whole track and making it feel like you are inside the mechanical belly of the world.
Frankly, Kayla Scintilla has outdone himself with ‘Gaian Code’. It is at the peak of new age electronica and if the spoken passages aren’t your thing, there is still a full-sized album to chill out to or ride the story with. The album is so excellent because you do have the choice. The music stands alone without the narrative but is, in my opinion, stronger with it. A remarkable collection that anyone who enjoys darker new age or electronica vibes must try out.
Recommended track: Gaia featuring Youssoupha Sibide
Support Higher Plain Music
Higher Plain Music is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me there such as behind the scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. If they are from Amazon, I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.