The Quietus | Reviews | Kele
More than twelve months after the lockdown, we have reached a point where the art of quarantine is growing in abundance. Work inspired by new rituals resulting from the global closure and implemented by alternative methods of creation. That’s not to say songwriters flip through old notebooks for sprawling lists of rhyming words. leaven, knitting or King tiger. The way we work, in countless industries, has completely changed. We had to adapt and produce under conditions born out of necessity. For many, this has been an exciting and invigorating prospect. Yes Waves Pt.1 is something to say, it would appear that the creativity of British songwriter and musician Kele Okereke has thrived, if not excelled, in this new approach.
After wrapping up a busy 2019, which included releasing his fourth solo studio album, 2042 and warm critics for his first piece titled Leave to stay (co-written with Matt Jones) Okereke was preparing to start writing a second musical. Then the lockdown occurred and he ended up at home looking after his two young children. Fortunately, being forced into self-sufficiency in your home studio did not compromise the scope of these twelve exciting arrangements. In fact, these might be some of his most interesting and complex compositions to date.
From the early days of Bloc Party, to Okereke’s solos, his imposing presence has always managed to match the power and breadth of his accompanying instrumentations. This remains the case on this offer, but with less frequency on the tracklist. “The Way We Live Now” hears her scream in anguish at an unfaithful partner (“Either way, this has to end. Did I make myself understood”) and her impressive falsetto envelops the listener for the duration of the song. “Smalltown Boy,” a chilling cover of Bronski Beat’s 1984 synth-pop classic. Much like the overall feel of the instrumentation, Okereke is a natural shapeshifter in a series of dynamic soundscapes inspired by Radiohead, Broadcast and Stereolab, among others.
Aside from these particularly passionate performances, Okereke’s cadence is generally relaxed and intimate. A more muted and dark tone invites more attention to his words. Sometimes it’s as if her thoughts were subconsciously tumbling from her lips the moment they were conceived. “They Didn’t See It Coming” is a perfect example of his laid-back tone as he guides us through his nighttime walk where he encounters foxes and burnt-out police cars. A charming arrangement of bouncing guitar licking and looping melodies speeds up the story and immediately invites the listener. At first glance, it sounds like a happy ditty, but on closer inspection the many layers involved reveal the subtle sophistication woven into Okereke’s songwriting. It’s a wonderful achievement and a recurring aspect of The Waves Pt. 1the arrangements of.
To anyone unfamiliar with Okereke’s solo release, Waves Pt.1, presents a more tempered execution of his art and is a welcoming entry point. Instead of claustrophobic percussion, motorik melodies provide a solid foundation for liminal synth patterns and intricately interpreted guitar riffs to take precedence. Cinematic in nature, Okereke revealed that he drew heavily on classical music and film scores when recording the album. The ‘Nineveh’ on the piano, a quaint shapeshifter, feels like a natural bedmate for lighter, more romantic moments in Jonny Greenwood’s compositions for Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom thread. Elsewhere, there is an overall gray scale on the majority of the songs, most notably “ Dungeness ” which evokes a similar icy calm that dominates the landscape of Hitchock. The birds. These touchstones, in particular, do well to emphasize the prevailing nighttime air and the looming anxiety that characterizes soundscapes.
Against the inherent anxiety, a consistent dreamlike quality in all of these songs effortlessly spills over the listener for gentle relief. Perhaps the most compelling examples of this come from the three instrumentals: the aforementioned “Dungeness”, “The Patriots” and “The Heart of The Wave”. Of the latter, Okereke described how sitting in his bedroom playing his guitar was a great source of therapy. (Elsewhere, therapy as inspiration returns with the mystically-oriented meditation, “Intentions.”) In these instrumentalities we are presented with some of the most diverse and immediately effective arrangements. “The Patriots”, in particular, stands out with its eerie hauntology before being usurped by a thrilling prog jump in its final moments. All in all, it is a rewarding and captivating job. Waves Pt.1 testifies to Kele Okereke’s adaptability as an artist.