Kodomo - Divider

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2017-08-18

Kodomo, a.k.a. Chris Child, has put out some truly blissful electronic music. Thankfully, he keeps doing it on his latest release, Divider. While there's nothing quite as brain-twistingly brilliant as 'Concept 16' off 2008's Still Life album, there's plenty to enjoy here.

The EP leads with a brief intro, 'Emergence', that goes super spacey and ambient, lacking percussion and with just a faint melody gliding past dim pads. It's extremely tantalizing, and I was somewhat disappointed it's less than two minutes long, as it shows a lot of promise. Still, it's a bit outside Kodomo's wheelhouse, so I suppose it serves its purpose. It blends seamlessly into the first complete track, 'Strike', which brings in a twinkling, fast-paced synth lead and a stuttering bass, layered with urgent and varied light beats. It feels like traveling through an interdimensional gateway, rather epic all in all.

'Son' cruises at a slightly lower altitude, somewhere near Earth, with a bit more of a slow and steady vibe. Its smartly snapping, crackling, and popping percussion contrasts nicely against the sweet melodies and pulsing bassline. 'Storm King' is more barren, eschewing beats once again and leaning heavily on an assortment of pads. This track feels more like BT's more dissociated work; it could have easily fit on his classic This Binary Universe, but it feels somewhat out of place, and not as interesting as the first track.

'HEL' is solid, but sounds, if not exactly generic, very old school, like it's using 808s and other archaic equipment. This one sounds straight out of the early 90s, when a lot of electronic groups were taking their first uncertain steps into the realm of IDM. It's got a firm presence with the endlessly rippling waves of synths parading past. This is very much comfort food electronica for one such as myself. And towards the end, things get spicier, with some playful distortion and effects mixed it.

I love when song titles match the music. It's tricky on instrumental tracks, but 'Descent' nails it. This is a song about sinking into the depths. Big bass pads feel like ancient homing beacons in the distance, and I can see the darkness giving way to light as the meandering, bent up melody explores deeper and deeper into the abyss. The tune just keeps drifting, until there's nothing left at the end. Somehow this one works, and harkens back to the ultra ambient work of Dilate.

Kodomo asserts his own personality better on the final song, 'Numbers', with a carefully calculated pair of synths precisely moving through the digital void. They build in intensity to an electric crescendo, then spiral off into an echoing, harpsichordish fugue before finally becoming a pixelated, scattered array of bits that dissolve away to close the set.

Being an EP, this is a bit-size piece of music, but there a decent amount of variation on offer all the same. I wouldn't say this is Kodomo's best work, but with such a strong catalog, that's not really a negative statement. Definitely grab Divider if you like anything in the neighborhood of IDM or older electronica.

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