Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Jana Hermann – Kults

Not God, but at least it’s got a religious title!


Adaora Ede: In this new track from the Latvian electronic artist, Hermann borrows heavily from a sound that feels as if it originated in the new wave clubs of the urban Soviet Union à la 80s Russian rock groups like Piknik. Probably didn’t, and I’m most likely thinking way too hard about dance music, but this starts off sounding wholly industrial poppy. Even so, to say just that would be stopping at the first minute of haunting vocals. Aside from the singing that finds itself justly in the background, the foreground is hard hitting guitars and stabbing synths that make you want to dance, but definitely not at a club with a dancefloor and lights. “Kults” is more of a dimmed, shut-out room with a Party City disco ball on the ceiling. But like, only after the beat switches up.

Alfred Soto: The vocoder and synth crackle is straight out of an early ’80s disco, lower Manhattan or Berlin: fresh, tart, frills-free, and over in less than 2:40.

Brad Shoup: Her bass sounds like the trains that run past our duplex. At the start, anyway. Past that, Hermann offers hollow twinned vocals and flimsy synth riffage.

Claire Molgat: Listening to this feels like cruising in the passenger seat with a  driver who knows their car and seems to know exactly where they’re  going. The confidently-calibrated, stuttery beat of the lead-in is  fantastic, leaving you eagerly waiting to hear where it goes, especially  as the sharp stings of the synth come in. The hang and the drop are  exactly as satisfying as they should be, and it’s good stuffit’s  excellent stuff, even. But then the song turns off the road and stops  dead to pick up a coffee, and you’re left in the car with the idling  engine, impatiently hoping that it will come back. All this needs is a  minute more of the same, just to enjoy the drive for a little bit  longer.

Katie Gill: The more I listen to this song, the more disjointed it feels. Hermann’s certainly having fun playing with all the settings she can find, but never really comes to a unified conclusion.  The biggest offender is the drop in the middle. It’s just so ABRUPT that it threw me even more off balance. It also doesn’t help that as soon as I got back on balance, the song was over–the song feels a lot shorter than it’s already short 2:30. And hey, I get that some songs are supposed to sound off balance or purposefully disjointed. But in my eyes? This is not one of them.

Katherine St Asaph: There’s Bjork in how this Latvian artist attacks notes, and the mix of sputter percussion, church engine, synth Knifing and metallic vocals reminds me of “Pluto,” less in sound than unbound imagination.

Mo Kim: “Kults” begins as a tip-toe through an array of fun noises, like a third-grader sneaking around the music classroom after hours: she fiddles with a few chords on the chipped piano before playing with the hi-hats on the drum set, the broken window across her bathing her soundscape in shards of summer sunlight. Unfortunately, she breaks the magic of the tinkering when she accidentally triggers a drum preset on the new Yamaha keyboard and Mr. Robinson catches her red-handed: detention for both our heroine and the song.

Cassy Gress: In the first third of this, Jana is a cyborg Nordic maiden in tunic and leggings, gazing out over the rainy fjords, unblinking. In the second third, she has walked inside her turfhouse and is warming her fingertips by the fire. In the final third, she is inside the Discovery One‘s centrifuge, her eyes fixed firmly on the monolith orbiting Jupiter. It’d probably be an [8] if the turfhouse bit wasn’t comparatively simplistic.

Tim de Reuse: Every element of “Kults” celebrates its own artificiality. Its mix is  top-heavy and scratchy, its sound design pallet includes only primary  colors, and its percussive elements sound like a stuttering Toys’R’Us  keyboard – reminiscent of The Knife, but with some of the sinister  swapped out for giddy glee. This kind of dedication to plastic, chemical  excess can grate on the senses when improperly handled, but this piece  is thankfully short and sparse, and with every instrument staying in its  own corner there’s never enough to truly overwhelm. The distant, fuzzy  vocal line is the nicest bit of it all, gluing everything together and  flowing around the synth stabs and steady pulse of the song’s  unexpectedly energetic second half. It’s a decent candy bar of a track –  there’s not a lot to chew on, but it’s sugary, it doesn’t overstay its  welcome, and it gets its job done.

Reader average: [8.5] (2 votes)

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