What does Kalya Scintilla sound like?
Bringing tribal rhythms and ancient instruments into a deep house and downtempo setting.
The review of Kalya Scintilla – Mumijo
I’ve long been a fan of the bass-heavy approach to tribal electronica that Kalya Scintilla embodies. His tracks are usually a mixture of traditional instruments or synthesised traditional instruments jamming to live and digital beats. Each album always has its own vibe but they straddle new age, electronica and world music in a unique way. With ‘Mumijo’, Kalya returns with another slice of premium music and whilst the result is up at a high bar, the way the album was constructed was different this time around.
According to the album notes the creation of ‘Mumijo’ was far more organic and almost improvisational in nature. The backbone of the album was made with an orchestra of analogue and digital hardware drum machines and synthesizers, combined with percussion and instruments in a live studio jam. For those of you interested in the genesis of an album’s creation, there is a live jam set that appears to hint at a lot of what ‘Mumijo’ became. It’s fascinating to see a producer at work, mixing all kinds of instruments together.
That energy and flow carry across the album. ‘Immunity’ is a majestic opener with plucked synth harps, harmonic bells and deep basslines throbbing a chilled downtempo vibe. It hints at new age roots but as always with Kalya Scintilla, the hard-edge bass gives it far more grit and body. ‘Energy’ is more about tuned percussion and quicker rhythms. Rainforest field recordings, vocal chant snapshots and all kinds of crunchy noises make the track sparkle lively. Add in the majestic flute and you have a perfect example of what makes a Kalya Scintilla track work so well. ‘Yang’ takes Asian tuned percussion and wraps samples and glass noises around a heavy, drawn-out wub wub dubstep rhythm. The beauty here is that the entire track at times wub’s frequency and so it is like your bodily frequency is shifting to the music. The track’s minimalist approach allows the resonance of the tuned percussion to impact fully too.
The middle of the album contains two eight-minute jams that push a more romantic warmth. ‘Vive Amore’ embellishes whisper samples with soft trance synths and Latin guitar. The interplay between the fuzzy synths, live drums and guitar is skillfully laid out as they pass embellishments between each other. It’s incredibly smooth. ‘The Heart Knows the Way’ is much slower but follows a similar idea with electric piano, synth yang qin and a deep rhythm. It’s a meditative piece in a way, although the smooth downtempo washes of ‘Yin’ is the calmer track.
The album returns back to a drone dubstep bass style for ‘The Resin’. The bass leads the way here with lots of carefully crafted atmospherics backing the pulsating rhythms. Nordic throaty male choirs, desolate rocky echoing caves, dusty synths and distant rain – it’s all here. It leads you to the lighter, breezier and chipper ‘Return to Calm’ which closes the album. Sounding like we’ve gone full circle, we return back to rainsticks, rich tuned percussion, soft whispers and downtempo beats. There is something extremely satisfying with the depth of sound the tuned percussion has throughout the album but it works especially well here.
Anyone who enjoys mystical music or downtempo new age electronica would enjoy ‘Mimojo’ immensely. Kalya Scintilla has a deft hand at being able to keep a track moving, fluid and free of the usual new age shackles. It feels sincere and magical but with bite to it and that comes from the heavy bass leaning production. There are plenty of melodies and they don’t move at a snail’s pace either, meaning you feel like you’ve experienced a full journey without wandering into new age ambient territory too. ‘Mumijo’ is another fine release into Kalya Scintilla’s excellent catalogue.
Recommended track: Energy
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