Kid Koala, Eric San, has returned with an album of staggering beauty called Music to Draw To: Satellite. There’s always been something disarming in San’s approach to his craft; a simple focus of getting the job done, pursuing the notion, and working with a quiet self-confidence that displays faith that ‘this is worth doing’. You can call Kid Koala a DJ, a turntablist, a producer, a graphic novel artist, and while each of those appraisals are true they also miss the mark. San is an artist that follows an idea to the form where it’s best expressed. Puppet shows, headphone concerts, cycle rides – anything can work under San’s direction, and as he explores his audiences follow.
This new album continues Kid Koala’s thread of ambient pieces designed to inspire creativity in his listeners. If you have the right amount of cash you can purchase a nice little Kid Koala sketch book along with the tunes – why not transfer your thoughts onto the page as you listen, just as the artist intended? The tunes themselves are a collection of amorphous soundscapes which slowly shift and blend a palette of easy harmonics, expansive tones and the vocal talent of Emilíana Torrini, the Icelandic singer who’s just been working with The Colorist on another collaborative piece. Torrini’s work here is some of her best, making structures from the mists that San creates, her understated excellence cannot be overstated.
This new album moves deeper into space than even Space Cadet ventured. While satellites orbit around larger bodies it feels as if we are adrift, blissfully, mournfully, and lonesome, having escaped the gravity of whatever launched us on this trajectory. Memories, or vague promises on the horizon seem the only propulsion now.
San has a knack of offering an other-worldliness through much of his work, and he does that again here. Sounds build and then refract through themselves, so we’re never given a clear direction of purpose, instead we’re offered a vague direction in which to travel as the space he’s created unfolds around us. In a world that sometimes appears to be dismantling around us it’s reassuring that this kind of album exists – concentrating on reflection and thoughtfulness and producing creative solutions to some of the big issues. 7 out of 7 smile-sighs-because-it’s-all-too-beautiful.
Head over to Kid Koala’s online store to purchase Music To Draw To: Satellite in a variety of formats.
Main image: Patt Murray