- I remember the first time I saw King Midas Sound: May of 2010, during the FutureEverything festival in Manchester. Their debut Hyperdub album, Waiting For You, had been stewing in its gloomy, heartbroken juices for a few months already. Syrian wedding singer Omar Souleyman, Demdike Stare and the legendary Mark Ernestus, performing with Paul St. Hilaire, were also billed. It was quite the spread, but King Midas Sound left the most resonant impression. It was loud—really loud. Loud in an all-consuming, render-you-motionless kind of way. The volume swallowed up all the poignant songwriting, all the wounded sentiment, to make the music impactful in a very physical kind of way.
At this year's Incubate festival, King Midas Sound's performance of Edition 1, their collaboration with the Austrian guitarist and experimental artist Christian Fennesz, was none of those things. From an ocean of loud and brutal acts on tap, KMS were one of the gentler, more soothing and theatrical reprieves. For those clutching their free earplugs and feeling cheated, it might've been a letdown. For those of us appreciating the serene tonal washes that Fennesz brought to the performance, however, it was a slow-building, smoky crescendo of noise, perhaps all the more potent for lending airiness to an otherwise heavyweight show.
As Andrew Ryce noted about Aroo, King Midas Sound's first release for Ninja Tune back in 2013, it seemed like all the lovely, heady dub foundations of their Hyperdub records had been replaced by something closer to ambient and shoegaze. In many ways, Edition 1 continues down that route. "Melt" is the only real dub track here, with the rest sounding like a post-rock apparition that leaves its mark with cold fingers and tender caresses.
The press release seems eager to paint Edition 1 in the same abject tones as its predecessors. It's certainly still bleak as ever, but there's more hope than before, reflected in billowy vistas on tracks like "Our Love" and the aqueous instrumental "Above Water." You could say the album's heart-tugger is "We Walk Together," an eerie, grainy ballad sung by Kiki Hitomi. And for that it might be the most memorable. The other standout moments are led by Roger Robinson and his signature hushed, high-pitch tone, as on "Waves." He always turns a song into a hypnotic lullaby that sticks with you long after it's over. "Loving Or Leaving" is another creepy, skulking example of King Midas Sound's spectral idiosyncrasies, which make Edition 1 a haunted delight.
02. On My Mind
04. Loving Or Leaving
07. Above Water
08. We Walk Together
09. Our Love