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White Noise: Koreless – Yugen

Friday, 21 June 2013

Koreless – Yugen

Label: Young Turks

Lewis Roberts’ output as Koreless has never really been focused on the dancefloor. Instead notable singles such as Away and the excellent 4D / MTI 12” wore their subdued beat patterns lightly, the songs concentrating on breathy vocal manipulations and sweetened melodies, capturing an ephemeral beauty in their slight constructions.

On his most substantial release to date Roberts has radically restricted his sound palette, leaving only the minor-key synthwork and an occasional looped vocal, all painted thickly onto an emotional widescreen. While such a shift is undoubtedly laudable and can work given the right context (Koreless’ phenomenal live show serves as proof), Yugen proves an ultimately unsatisfying affair, a few brilliant ideas spread thinly across 25 minutes which leave you hungry for a little more range and depth to the sound.


This is not to say that Yugen is not a worthwhile listen: indeed Koreless shows the power of his new approach on lead track Sun. Here sweeping, maximalist synths summon references to Vangelis in their raw emotive pull and M83 in their epic swells, as a rhythmic loop adds urgency and a shard of a female vocal sample adds a touch of humanity. It’s a heady and surprising combination that makes you feel in your gut rather than your brain, forcing the listener to engage by dint of its unapologetic emotional grandeur.

This breathtaking concoction represents the pinnacle of Koreless’ work within this particular sonic spectrum, and as a result the other tracks on the EP suffer for their similarity to varying degrees. Opener Ivana is pretty and short enough to pack a punch, the same looped vocal mechanised in a manipulation of the human voice at once violent and sensuous. Later No Sun plays out as the dark shadow of its counterpart, yet the prominence of a mournful chord progression does not save the listener from a certain fatigue with the limited range of sounds on display.

The remainder of the EP is populated by similarly dreamy arrangements of bittersweet melodies, where the toybox twinkling of Last Remnants feels saccharine over the same tired, filtered synthwork, while the more substantial Never’s keening synth modulations offer only a ghostly imprint of Sun’s more powerful emotional punch. While Koreless’ dedication to his new sound is certainly impressive, the results feel too indistinct and superficial to really leave a lasting impact.


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