Restored 14 April 2017, originally published 22 January 2015
Few things are so universally revered as beautiful music.
Ladies and gentlemen the world over will tap their toes at the drop of solid beat. A sorrowful piano will bring a tear to anyone’s eye. And the successful marriage of the two should stretch a smile across anyone’s face.
Today’s review will, hopefully, be no different. The Russian producer Mr. KiD and his album After August are a testament to the excellence that is jazzy hip-hop. The 17 quick tracks (all around 2 minutes) on After August combine the elegance of jazz instrumentation with the hip-hops mellow sensibilities.
The album opener “Good Morning” starts us off on the right side of the bed with a smooth saxophone and piano duet. The sun is shining, birds are singing. All feels right in the world. As soon as we roll out of bed, however, things come back down to earth. Mr. KiD synthesizes and digitizes, making the piano part of a series of loops combined with strong bass notes. The loop is pretty consistent throughout the track’s 2 minutes and 18 seconds, but it’s not completely the same. He adds subtle guitar riffs, chimes, breaks, and an almost imperceptible string in the background.
Track number two, “Life will be better”, showcases Mr. KiD’s skill with mixing samples into his tracks. Honestly, I have a hard time identifying the sample’s source because the voice is pitched up (which some might find irritating, but I don’t mind) and the words are so spliced and diced that it’s difficult to make out any of the lyrics. But the sample never feels obnoxious. A heavy bass line and pinches of piano flesh out the soundscape while computer effects and manipulations fill the nooks and crannies.
Mr. KiD is also proficient in channeling diverse moods. “Gypsy sou(l)” has, appropriately enough, a soul/rock feel. It’s full of twangy guitars and impassioned vocal samples. “Dance with me” feels like anticipation, like something interesting is on the cusp of happening. And it comes to pass. You just have to wait until the end to find out what. “Shadow of dream” and “You don’t know” convey a sense of longing. “Lament song” is imbued with sadness and loss, which are most clearly felt in the predominant piano. But it’s not all tears. The track wraps up with a lighter piano arrangement to provide some closure. “Everything” has a sexy, ’90s, R&B mood to it. There are electric pianos, sensual vocals, even a pan flute.
Perhaps my favorite track on the album is “So rare”. It brings everything to the table: pianos, drums, strings, hard bass, electronic manipulations, heady psychedelia, and a cool heavy-light-heavy pace. Unfortunately, it too is only about 2 minutes long, but it’s a fun 2 minutes.
All told, Mr. KiD is like a skilled chef. He keeps things simple by letting his ingredients (pianos, saxophones, beats) shine as the stars of his tracks while adding spice here and zest there to achieve delicious morsels ready for immediate (and continuous) consumption.
Before I forget to mention it, Mr. KiD also has something like 8 other albums that I haven’t even touched yet, so there’s a ton of material to nosh on.
Mr. KiD – “Good morning”
Mr. KiD – “So rare”
After August purchase page