Calika | Blood Embrace

 Cat: AB031
 Time: August 10
 Media: Limited CD-R & Digital Download

 Info: Blood Embrace strips back the Calika sound to
 its simpler, rawer elements, giving a more urgent and
 immediate feel to the music.  

 Artist site:

 PDF Press Release: Download

 01. Matilda [MP3]
02. Kodachrome
03. Melcher
04. Fuckin Cretinous
05. Headset [MP3]
06. Lug
07. Blood Embrace
08. Palace Pier
09. In The Dark
10. If Ever There Was A Time [MP3]
11. Poor Low Lencher
 download download
REVIEWS | Blood Embrace

 Named in reference to a Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Matt Sweeney song, Blood Embrace is the latest full-length from
 Brighton electronica artist Calika. As is true to form the album is full of organically spliced together beats and 
 samples but with plenty of fresh, high-end production elements keeping the compositions fresh and melodically
 switched-on. A slightly darker, more subdued feel permeates this album, and Calika sounds all the better for it, 
 fashioning a string of powerful soundscapes through the early stages, peaking with the off-kilter, junkyard 
 folk-hop of 'Melcher', before entering into sinister jazz club mutations on 'Headset' and the haunting 'In The 
 Dark', which sounds rather like an eroded away reinterpretation of John Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack. 
 Good stuff.
 Brighton’s Simon Kealoha is back on the ‘bulb with a fourth full-length of the raw and the cooked – of lo-fi 
 audio-fiddling andprecision electro-acoustic surgery. Since debut album, Small Talk Kills Me and previous Seedling 
 Mother, Kealoha has been shuffling and variously dealing the elements of his sound, bringing to bear a sensibility
 steeped in the studied fret-fingerings of post rock, while in thrall to the spontaneity of jazz and the decon-
 reconstructionism of hip hop, evident in its deployment of found sounds and disintegrative loops. These
 ingredients are mixed up, folded together, and turned into moulds from which they emerge as loose and lurching 
 musical structures. Blood Embrace, for all that it is trailed as a more stripped down record, actually strikes as 
 pretty event-heavy, or perhaps it is just that there is a more discernible method in its controlled madness – that 
 his sounds are pared back to simpler, rawer elements, ideas left emergent, given room to breathe, often 
 wheezily, rather than being spliced and diced with a parade of others. The predominant M.O. seems to eschew 
 mouse-click loopery for electronic tampering with organic passages. There’s more immediacy to the music – not 
 that production artifice is less, but that it seems more in service to the whole. In fact the wilful juxtaposition of 
 organic and artificial is a Calika characteristic, and Blood Embrace is replete with cut-and-shut assemblages of 
 beats and samples, though the tendency to hyperactive disorder of previous Calika is toned down. For all the 
 sound-mangling on show, there are straight played acoustic instruments a-plenty, e.g. the organ leading the 
 unhip-hop pop processional of “Kodachrome,” and shedloads of guitar, e.g. on the dolefully moody “Headset” 
 and on the sulky “Lug,” which is prefaced with some nice woozy Mark Clifford (a mate of Kealoha’s) Seefeel 
 steel-steal. There are echoes of influences ranging from BoC and mid-period Posthuman to the likes of Hood 
 and Bracken without sounding like any of the above, and Calika’s eschewal of post-production finish is a 
 distinguishing feature. This feels like a weakness on the likes of “Poor Low Lencher,” a scrapheap-hop 
 throwaway, or the challengingly dissonant “Fuckin Cretinous;” a strength on the more considered reclamations 
 of “Melcher,” textures and beats leaning towards a shared goal of affect and kinesis (audio stream below);
 likewise on the strangely moving melodic ooze of the hymnal “If Ever there was a Time.” Overall, Blood 
 Embrace might be described as lo-fi, even ramshackle, IDM (mind the gap!), but overall this is a pretty varied
 disc that brings an unkempt Madlib or shambolic Matt Elliott spirit to the table, with haptic instrumental passages 
 colliding as much as colluding with rough cut loops and electronics.

 Simon Kealoha has been releasing his own brand of electro-acoustic music for the past five years. He has 
 released two previous albums for Audiobulb records, one for Scottish Label Benebecula, as well as various 
 EP's and compilation appearances.

 Through each release he has continued to explore his love of jazz, hip hop and post rock, found sounds, 
 degraded loops and twisted beats, incorporating them into loose musical structures that grow organically 
 from start to finish, taking unexpected twists and turns along the way.

 Blood Embrace strips back his sounds to its simpler, rawer elements, giving a more urgent and immediate 
 feel to the music. This is the result of a conscious attempt to alter the working process, jamming out ideas and 
 giving them the chance to grow within their own space with as little editing as possible.

 Brighton-based Simon Kealoha is back on Audiobulb with his fourth full length slice of refined electro-acoustic
 in five year, his first album since Seedling Mother (Audiobulb, 2007), following the two EPs released last year, 
 Crooked, once again on Audiobulb, and Slack Jaw on Highpoint Lowlife. Ever since he first appeared, in 2005, 
 with his debut album, Small Talk Kills Me, Kealoha has been refining his sound, bringing together acoustic and 
 electronic elements into complex and fragile formations. Beside working on his own project, Kealoha has also 
 collaborated with Seefeel mastermind Mark Clifford on the excellent Running Taper, an album published on 
 Clifford’s Polyfusia Records in 2005, and on a second opus which came close to be released two years later 
 but appears to have been victim of the demise of the label.

 Announced as a more stripped down and bare record, Blood Embrace remains a pretty intricate and organic 
 collection, at times surprisingly light and airy, at others radical and dense. Predominant in his work, the guitar, 
 acoustic in most cases, takes here a variety of roles, from simple textural counterpoint to main focal feature, 
 placed as a discreet melodic filigree amidst strong electronic currents or used as a substantial component in 
 the structure of a piece. While this is not the only acoustic instrument to find its way in this record, it is found
 in abundance throughout, from the gentle broken pop of Kodachrome or the shimmering Headset and Poor 
 Low Lencher to the sombre undertones of Lug or Fuckin Cretinous. This changes on the piano-led In The Dark,
 a piece in two half, the first showing a resolutely autumnal, at times almost funeral, tone, while the second 
 reveals a brighter mood as the course of the melody is greatly altered by the introduction of a drum beat, but 
 things become much darker again as layers of mournful organ build up on the emotional aspect of If Ever There 
 Was A Time.

 While this confrontation of the organic and artificial is a pretty permanent fixture, Kealoha occasionally switches
 to more purely electronic or highly processed sounds. This is the case with the rather superb Melcher, with its 
 heady groove and rich sonic backdrop, and later on with the title track, which resonates with seismic 
 percussive noises placed over lightly abrasive sound waves, or on the lighter hip-hop flavoured Palace Pier. 
 These are in no way exempt of acoustic elements, but they are either buried under layers of grainy electronic 
 sounds, only to emerge occasionally, at times for just a brief moment, at others in the dying section of a track, 
 or processed beyond recognition.

 While not a major departure from previous Calika releases, Blood Embrace denotes a move toward slightly darker
 territories for Simon Kealoha, but far from rendering his music heavier, it seems to inject a new lease of energy 
 in his approach. He manipulates his sound sources and integrates the various strands of his sound with great 
 dexterity throughout to create his most consistent and confident work yet.

 The third album by Simon Kealoha, also known as Calika comes as a CDR, unlike its two predecessors. What 
 hasn't changed is his love of "jazz, hip hop, post rock, found sounds,degraded loops and twisted beats", which
 he seems to be using all to create his music. What's different, I suppose, is the fact that things sound a bit more 
 raw, unfinished than before. Calika creates some great IDM music, but isn't too shy to move into more ambient 
 textures, and have a piece with some guitar sounds, modest computer processing and simply watch what is 
 happening. Calika makes a pretty varied disc of bouncing rhythm pieces,melodic ambient pieces and lovely sunny 
 pieces. This release, along with a cold soft drink, reading a book in a sunny garden, is just the perfect way to 
 spend afternoon (if only I had a garden!).
 Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists. 

 Sign-up to our newsletter for our latest news & support our work by visiting the shop.