kwes album review: ilp


On New Year’s Day I woke up with a tongue you could file your nails on and a head that felt like a salt-rimmed axe was wedged between my ears. The fact that I was wearing only my eyeliner, one sock and a woolly hat meant it was a good night, but I was in for a horrendous morning. That was until I found kwes.

With my last ebb of energy, I switched on the radio and heard kwes’ Rollerblades – the first song to be heard from his unreleased new album ‘ilp’. For the next 3.4 mins I was relieved better than any bacon sandwich and an Alka Seltzer could hope to achieve. In the knowledge that Jan 1st is a dark day reserved for the mother of all hangovers, I posted it to Facebook simply with the phrase ‘this helps’.

…Liked Kwes before? Prepare to love kwes now…

It’s hard not to be a little bit in love with Kwes. Unassuming and totally talented he is the says-little-sees-a-lot type – unsurprising, perhaps, for someone who has chromesthesia (sound-to-colour synaesthesia). What he lacks in showmanship, he makes up for in his charismatic music. Here is where we see his personality shine.

Maybe the most autobiographical of his new collection is Bashfulsomething I’m sure kwes has been labelled with to the point of self-subscription. Here he lolls about ‘getting over’ himself and ‘looking forward’ as claiming to be seen as ‘too young’ (he’s only 24). Young yes, but his sound is far from immature.

Peroni: Kwes

The instrumental tracks, such as the industrial sounds of Hives and the futuristic orchestra of Chagall, showcase his talent for fusing new age classical with old school electronic. Without the hypnotic distraction of kwes’ spoken-word whale-song, you can appreciate the plod of the baseline against the silky strings and the complimentary pings on a xylophone. Making all those ingredients sound sweet takes expert production and this is pulled off with class.

The more vocally substantial Purple Hands and Broke, are slathered with poetically woeful vocals that echo his former projects with Damon Albarn and the spellbinding sounds from his days of producing songs for the xx.

Along with the highlight of Rollerblades, 36 is all piano chords, drum kits and sentiment giving it a radio friendly indie edge kwes coins as ‘Freepop’.

ilp has kwes written all over it and strengthens Warp Records’ experimental kudos. Liked Kwes before? Prepare to love kwes now.

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