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Four Tet - Live at Alexandra Palace London, 8th and 9th May 2019 Music Album Reviews

Kieran Hebden’s new live album reminds us that he is a stellar performer, not just a producer.
The British producer Kieran Hebden has one of the most distinctive signatures in electronic music. First, a gravelly drum machine; then, some jewel-toned synth pads; and, finally, a strip of harp or chimes or wordless cooing, unspooling like wrinkled ribbon.

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Bedouine - Bird Songs of a Killjoy Music Album Reviews

Azniv Korkejian’s folk music boasts a surreal calm and a lived-in glow that masks turmoil just outside the frame.

The folk music Azniv Korkejian makes as Bedouine has a beckoning quality, a distance that masks the emotion brewing just beneath the surface. Her lyrics are circular and understated; on her second album, Birdsongs of a Killjoy, it often takes a few listens for the wistfulness of lines like, “I love you/You love how much I love you” to sink in. Her music is largely free from temporality—it could have just as easily been made in the 1970s as today.


Like the surreal calm under a bridge during a rainstorm, the album’s quiet sadness feels surrounded by turmoil unfolding just outside the frame. Much of that anguish comes from unrequited love. On Birdsongs of a Killjoy, birds symbolize restless lovers that Korkejian is afraid of holding back. “Am I to you some sort of chain/Are you a bird, am I your cage?” she asks on “One More Time.” On “Bird Gone Wild,” she imagines herself “beating ’round a cage like a/Bird gone wild.” Though there is captivating beauty in a bird’s song, the bird can never truly belong to you.

Korkejian has grown in leaps since her debut. Her lyrics are subtler and more shaded; the guitar, strings, and horn are more plentiful and detailed. Finger-picked guitars and strings swirl around her rich voice, which is weathered and warm as the back of your grandmother’s hand. On paper, there’s nothing novel about the lyrics “One more time, honey/One more time/I’m gonna set you free,” but on “One More Time,” she croons with such hushed mourning that she sends them skyward. Over the sparse guitar of “Sunshine Sometimes,” she fills the word “wildflower” with a drowsy, lived-in glow.

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Vivid images dot her lyrics: “Drag my finger ’round the rim/Drag around a phantom limb/When you’re gone,” she murmurs on “When You’re Gone.” Other lines, like “I kept the bottle we drank from together/I don’t know, is that insane?” (from “Bird”) achieve a certain group-chat candor. But the lyrics occasionally verge on maxims, and the space between gems can feel like filler. It’s not always evocative to describe someone as “wild as a storm,” or to compare loneliness to being on an island. When Korkejian alludes to the thrilling unpredictability and turbulence of nature without any comparable rush or sense of awe in the music, those grandiose references feel unearned. At times, it feels like Korkejian is holding back, and the album could benefit from a few more moments as raw as “Bird.” As it is, Bird Songs makes for lovely twilight listening, the kind of reflective and soothing album you play when nestled into a blanket on a porch with the people you love.


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