Kaia Kater – Unusual Drugs

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It’s been a full six years since Kaia Kater’s final album, the beautiful Grenades, however she seems to have spent the time judiciously. Having undertaken a residency on the Canadian Movie Centre, she’s broadened an already spectacular talent set by composing TV and film scores, which, in flip, now feed into the soundscapes of Unusual Drugs.


On the identical time, the album finds Kater rediscovering the fervour for banjo – she spent years finding out Appalachian music in West Virginia – that made 2016’s 9 Pin so distinctive. The instrument foregrounds plenty of songs right here, although as a part of bigger preparations that discover area for ingenious, jazz-like percussion, strings, loops, low-key brass and a smattering of electronica. The impact is commonly dizzyingly recent and satisfyingly wealthy, as Kater explores influences as various because the West African kora and minimalist hero Steve Reich. “Fédon”, for example, with visitor Taj Mahal, stretches outwards from core banjo to carry semi-symphonic soul and jazz-blues into its artfully measured combine. “In Montreal” fuses a clawhammer determine to syncopated beats and a scrumptious Celtic fiddle break. “Mechanics Of The Thoughts” is a sinuous ensemble piece that manages to sound each musically concerned and tastefully understated, feeling all of the extra highly effective for its sense of restraint.

Unusual Drugs additionally runs deep and large lyrically. These are songs that talk of misogyny, racism, the bloody legacy of colonialism and Kater’s place within the trendy world. “The Witch”, that includes Aoife O’Donovan, makes use of the Salem witch trials to handle institutionalised sexism, male perceptions of girls and the venting of righteous anger. On “In Montréal”, Kater encounters visions of her former selves within the place of her start, accompanied by fellow metropolis native Allison Russell. It’s a conflicted portrait, as are “Floodlights” and the stunning “Maker Taker”, each of which look at Kater’s relationship together with her personal artwork. “I’ll not keep precious/Except I’m writing verses/And telling tragic tales,” she sings in her low, expressive voice. Regardless of the context, Unusual Drugs means that hers is a expertise constructed to endure.

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