The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Klein
Tommy The Quietus , November 21st, 2017 12:33

Her debut on Hyperdub, a deeper and utterly unique cut from producer and singer Klein. By Olamiju Fajemisin

Producer and vocalist Klein has been working in the UK music scene since the release of her first two EPs, Only (2016) and Lagata (2016). Her latest creative effort, Tommy on Hyperdub Records, is the darker, more mature, older sibling to Lagata, and another firm exposition of her unique and extensive vocal ability and her creative, DIY production style.

At times it is chaotic, an emotional expression of her personal fusion of R&B and hip hop. At first listen, we’re fed so many different ideas and concepts that the motifs can be hard to parse. Then after a good few listens, and after coupling the music with visuals from Klein's YouTube channel and on her Instagram profile, we’re left with artistry that is utterly unique, both conceptually and artistically.

Klein was born in London to a Nigerian family and spent time as a child in Lagos and Los Angeles. “When people talk about my music they’re always like, ‘Oh my god, your stay in Nigeria must have really influenced your music!’" Klein said in a recent gal-dem interview. "And I’m like, Erm, not really because when I was in Nigeria I had no interest in making music.”

The first time I listened to Lagata, I made this same assumption. Klein samples Yoruba prose on the opening track; she also uses the Nigerian flag emoji a lot in her Instagram captions. Tommy explores the more vulnerable, personal side of Klein. This is seen particularly on ‘Never Cry’. Klein explained to me how it’s her creative interpretation of how “it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to be vulnerable”, this piece begins with an atmospheric, ascending piano sequence before undulating, melancholic, gospel-inspired vocals turn to chatter in the second half of the song, eventually culminating in a fairly noisy final 40 seconds. “Noisy” is a word Klein herself used in description of her work, but went on to consolidate this mild self-deprecation by saying “there are sentiments in [the music] with quite familiar tones”. The track that is best representative of this familiarity is ‘Runs Reprise’, midway through the record. Despite being a mere 55 seconds long, it’s a brilliant and exciting interpretation of a UKG-esque beat laid atop chirpy (almost shrill) vocals.

The eclectic range of genres explored on Tommy allow her to explore a variety of emotions. ‘Act One’ presents an aura of calm with wistful, soul-inspired vocals spinning among looped electronic chords. This is a far cry from the ‘Everlong’, a more confrontational track that opens with a grungy guitar riff that spans the length of the piece before being superseded with bellowing crashes.

Tommy is a cohesive, complex record. Klein has said, "I want the listeners to feel is that they actually know me… I don’t necessarily make music to be played in the club.” She's also making music to be open and accessible: “In my head, my music sounds just as ‘pop’ as anything else because of the melodies.” For longtime fans, Tommy is a clear culmination of all her creative efforts so far, and one that allows us more insight into her as a person and an artist.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.