- Klein is a young London sound artist who makes collages from samples and loops, pasting jagged fragments in seemingly random patterns. Her work isn't tied to any genre, taking musical elements—vocal hooks, piano, drum sounds—and making sometimes unmusical pieces with them. Her two self-released albums from last year were striking in their abstraction, funnelling R&B, hip-hop and gospel into an avant-garde style of songwriting. On her debut for Hyperdub, Klein pushes her music even further into the deep end. It's among the UK label's most dumbfounding records.
Tommy is a 25-minute EP, but it's built like an album. It starts with the sounds of Klein in a room with her collaborators. They happily chat away until the voices and piano begin to stutter, as if the EP were descending into madness. Much of Tommy is just Klein's voice and piano, but she makes that combination sound alien. "Cry Theme" is a poignant musical phrase cut into angular pieces, looping until it forms an anxious rhythm. "Act One" creates chaos from the sparest of musical arrangements. The EP only gets more unhinged from there, climaxing with a Foo Fighters-sampling track called "Everlong," where guitar strums clash with scuffed breakbeats and soulful vocal phrases.
Catchy vocal loops are littered throughout the EP like beacons of light. Klein catches the ear with wordless, almost inhuman fragments, recalling Burial in the way she taps into a well of feeling that goes beyond words. Even at its weirdest, it's deeply affecting music. And by combining that with breaks on tracks like "Everlong," "B2k" and "Runs Reprise," she dives into the UK hardcore continuum that Hyperdub often focusses on, making original music out of otherwise rinsed elements.
The way Klein references pop culture yet keeps her listener at a distance could remind listeners of Dean Blunt, whose work is also a splattered collage. But even on a label like Hyperdub, Klein's work exists entirely on its own terms. It's a vocalist and her piano presenting a form of singer-songwriter music that doesn't need words to get its feelings across.
02. Act One
03. Cry Theme
05. Runs Reprise
08. Farewell Sorry