Klein STAR IN THE HOOD

Label
Parkwuud Entertainment
Released
10th April 2024

Format Info

1LP black vinyl

A dizzying 55 minute trawl through labyrinthine, anti-ambient and grizzled basement noise, all carnivalesque vocal manipulations, shimmered R&B, auto-piano sketches and psychedelic concréte that’ll leave you stunned and frazzled. There’s just no-one doing it quite this way, we keep on saying.

STAR IN THE HOOD plays like a cracked, tarnished mirror of contemporary numbing music, replacing long-form expression with tighter, more explosive and sometimes completely freeform transmissions that will wake you up from your overly comfortable environmental music slumber. Opening with cycling ghost drones, dialog and piano motifs that blur into heartfelt noise, ‘black star’ is all loping, looping piano and chthonic vocals spiked with cheese-grater noise and chipmunked chirps. It’s Klein’s delirious vocal runs that push the album to the next level though; like her style-defining “Lagata” and the Hyperdub-released “Tommy”, she subverts the raw material that makes up R&B, turning memorable hooks into blurry impressions that will glue to your mind like a diva moment on a Suburban Bass cut.

She keels into longform on ‘schooled’, fogging organ drones into hazed clouds that gust into imposing shapes over a 10-minute duration, rekindling the dialog between contemporary noise and gospel music. Grandiose classical sounds receive a similar treatment on ‘Friend in the Mirror’, pulled into disorienting shapes that dispel any notions of class gatekeeping; in the final third, Klein’s voice interrupts the mood, before machine-gun percussion reminds us not to get too comfortable. If yr in search of beauty, ‘postcode wars’ finds Klein fuzzing euphoric chords into an afterparty woosh of half-heard voices and dribbling synths. She simultaneously channels rapture and wrath, poignantly torching the contemporary societal skeleton without losing her near-at-hand community in the process.

Midway through the album there’s a thematic pivot signalled by the brief ‘shorty alert’, a trilling mass of carnivalesque vocal quirks that sound like spiders spitting DMT into yr eardrums. From here, things get darker and more unsettling: there’s doomed subterranean ambience on ‘signed and delivered’, Disney-esque piano motifs, blown-out lo-fi outsider rawk on ‘Swerve’, and speaker garbling free eccentric soul on ‘brand new day’, each struck through with that unmistakable high-vs-low culture posturing. It all brings us to the album’s unsettling one-two punch of ‘haha hehe business’, maybe the foamiest track we’ve heard from her this year, and the zonked ‘winter’ – a piece that’s as crystal clear as Klein gets, an unprocessed heartstring-tugging vocal performance over acoustic guitar twangs.

In typical style, we’re stunned into abstraction by Klein. In our opinion, her music defines our era, no less.

(BOOMKAT)