CD, Kodama, 2009
Kibuka is a new project from sound mastermind Dean Dennis, formerly of Clock DVA and, more recently, Nohno. A logical successor to the latter’s “Metropolis” (2006), Kibuka’s “Dystopia” takes the sumptuous bass and retro-electronic, tech-ambient feel of that pithy release and articulates it further, fleshing out sharp percussion and puffed-up pads to where the grooves feel totally intuitive and the production bathes in its own eloquence. Deliberately thin-sounding electronics are paired with meaty bass layering, accented with melodic ambiences, then splashed with an array of vocal samples. The tracks are psychedelic and slippery, replete with complex rhythms and jazz-infused constructs, and together settle into a locked-in vibe. In short, “Dystopia” is an extension of the best ambient techno of the last couple decades, with nods to such genre stalwarts as Orbital, Meat Beat Manifesto, Freaky Chakra, and The Black Dog.
The album’s fourteen spacey tracks – excluding two additional extended remixes from Lustmord and a Paul A. Browse/Spiralized collaboration – follow a retro-futuristic concept, touching on the plush side of dark rave, classic acid trance and throwback downtempo. Itchy cymbal hisses, twangy synths, clipped rhythms and the worming bass from depths below combine with a dash of glitch and jazz to remind of when Warp Records introduced robots to armchairs the world over, spurring a paradigmatic shift in electronic music. Tracks such as “Cell by Cell” and “The Masquerade”, with their heady motion and reaffirming beats are perfect partners to the old school acid of “Dolly Mop” or the whale squeals and flush atmospherics of “System Control”. “Run Run” brushes with goa territory, while “Mystery Tour” is a manic carnival ride with driving beats and dark rave undertones. “Theta” is slower, with a bottom-heavy groove, “Monstrous” is thick and spooky and, for “True Colours”, the name says it all – Kibuka does well to emulate the forefathers of chill-out. Finally, the title track is cheerful, yet tempered, an ode to both the radiance and dread of humanizing technology, soaked in the unlikely promise of renewal following cataclysm.
The two remixes wrap up “Dystopia” with airy drones and windswept textures, their ambience by degrees more sinister and chilling than previous tracks. “All Seeing Eye” maintains appropriate bass while in “Chimera” falling chimes equate foreboding portents. Overall, Kibuka delivers nostalgia with a 21st-century twist, and fans of early IDM and electro-industrial are advised not to let this one slip by.
— Dutton Hauhart