Download Only, End Of Time Records, 2008
“Focus & Flow” is the second outing for the charming, albeit unlikely collaboration of James Watts and Peter Van Ewijk. Combining the unmatched brilliance of Kilowatts’ intricate and quirky electronic programming with the poignant, straight-forward vocals of Vanek, “Focus & Flow” manages to take the listener into a balmy and futuristic pop music soundscape where song composition and slick timing thread these fourteen inspiring and playful tracks together with purpose and maturity.
With the duo’s first effort, “RawQ” (2004), Vanek’s clean-cut vocals and folky lyrics seemed to clash with Watts’ intricate sound structures and high-tech electronic arrangements, and at times revealed some awkward moments. With this new jaunt the formula finally feels complete. While it is clearly evident which talents lay with whom, each of the elements presented here stand strong on their own merits and ultimately fuse together in marvelous harmony. While Peter’s lyrics, though soulful and fluid in their delivery, may seem a bit ordinary, Kilowatts’ complex electronic arrangements are nothing less than extraordinary. Here lies the true splendor of this release and perhaps the actual reference point of the “Focus” portion of the album’s title. Watts expertly wraps each note and beat perfectly tight around Vanek’s vocal flow, fusing every single aural ingredient into a tidy sinuous soup. No sound is wasted, no nuance lacks purpose, no beat is misplaced; it all comes together so naturally.
While the blatant accessibility of Vanek’s vocals may turn off some listeners who necessitate more grit to their music, those who find solace in warm electronica along the lines of Postal Service, Styrofoam, or even Apparat will certainly feel right at home with “Focus & Flow.”
— Paul Nielsen