- Extraterrestrial storytelling and emotive genre-hopping from one of the UK’s most exciting experimental pop producers.
- A few days back, followers of the SubwayCreatures Instagram may have spotted something strange, even for this account: an aggressively bulbous MTA patron clad in shades of pink and carrying a beaten-up suitcase. For some the appearance of this creature must have been frightening, but at least a few should easily recognize the lonely passenger as Drayan, UK producer Kai Whiston's 3037 year old (17 in human years) alien son who is apparently "running loose on earth." False alarm, then.
For the last few years, Drayan’s earth-father Whiston has been running with members of the GLOO camp like Iglooghost and BABii and lent twisted production to artists like Shygirl and Coucou Chloe, carving out his own niche between electronic music and pop. Whiston's solo output, however, is characterized by dramatic stylistic pivots. His first LP, 2018's Kai Whiston Bitch, was made of explosive and often abrasive club bangers, while 2019's No World As Good As Mine folded bits of his beatmaking and sampling sensibilities into a sound easier to class as post rock than any genre in the electronic realm.
His third record—or "collaborative mixtape"—Drayan! explores the emotions of his pubescent alien son, expressed through organic sounds and strange textures. The title track is like hi-def trip-hop, while on standout "Enabling Dreamtime Communication Via Distortion Implant Device," he channels an alien vision of Jai Paul-style blown-out soul to huge effect. One thing to remember, though: This is Drayan's record. He's 17 and emo as fuck. He sings on most of the tracks, equally catchy and disturbing hooks pieced together from a heavily-processed mix of groans and gurgles. On "Hybrid Child," calm, whimsical strings erupt into spectral choirs and a flurry of fireworks in a matter of seconds, and the aforementioned soul track quickly does a 180-degree turn, cracking and splintering into "Bothering Me," an angsty trap beat built with metallic percussion and scream samples.
It may sound like a lot, but this is actually the sound of Whiston taking a lighter touch. On Drayan!, the grooves last longer, the energy is more reserved and his carefully-designed sounds are allowed to grow and breathe more than they ever have. Somehow, Whiston's concept record about a frustrated teenage alien is his most mature to date.
01. Hybrid Child
03. Acid Richter
05. Enabling Dreamtime Communication Via Distortion Implant Device
06. Bothering Me
09. Stingray feat. EDEN