Thursday, 2 February 2012

Review: Kay-D - Sapphire

Kay-D - Sapphire
Kay-D is another one of the Mistiquemusic mainstays, and Sapphire is another Mistique prog album. Like Bvdub before him, Kay-D featured on my 2010 list with an album not awfully dissimilar to this one, and like Bvdub I was expecting a case of diminishing returns. I was also expecting another one of those "web label dance albums" I've been talking about - see also the reviews of Arctic Night, Magnus and Scenic & Advisory.

To an extent, Sapphire is totally one of those albums. His previous albums were too. And yet, I actually begrudgingly do really like this album, even if it is way too fucking long and doesn't really have any structure or purposeful order to the tracks. They're just really good tracks for the most part, in quite a varied way. His early stuff on Mistique was basically straight-up progressive trance at the new prog tempo of 128bpm (instead of 132bpm ten years ago), albeit extremely good and a bit of a throwback. Since then he seems to have slowed down even more (a few tracks are closer to 125) and cut out a lot of the driving hi-hat momentum in favour of a really chugging, bassy sound. Some of the basslines on this album are absolutely massive. Enormous. This is real early-in-the-night dance music, almost throbbing ambient music, definitely not the kind of stuff you can just speed up to 133 and rewind back to 2002 when Sasha was last genuinely good. I don't know if I'd actually dance to this in a club, but I'd certainly be glad to sit/stand hearing it if I'd actually turned up before midnight for once.

So there is evolution of sound here, and more importantly there are enough top quality bassy prog groovers to keep you coming back after the first listen. A couple of the tracks make for appropriately evolving super-long journey tracks,most notably Tonight with its processed female vocal, and the never-ending Internal Voice which starts off breakbeat and morphs into 4/4 halfway through. My favourite tracks, however, are slightly more concise. There's the brilliantly named Vagrant Positron, with an operatic vocal sample that reminds me of Spirits Dancing by Coyote enough to get nostalgically positive. It also has a ridiculously supermassive bassline, the kind that makes your neighbours file court actions against you. Then there's Twisted Synergy with what sounds for all the world like an acid line from a slamming techno warehouse monster transposed to a prog track and slowed right down to 125bpm. Very unusual, but oddly brilliant.

So although this album commits a lot of sins I would class as elementary and unforgivable to most other artists, Kay-D gets away with it because he keeps on delivering the goods. Yeah, it gets a little boring to listen to such a long album that's all bass-y slow-mo prog, but you just can't keep tunes this good down. It's basically a straight fight between this one and Michael & Levan's album for Prog Long Player Of The Year, unless Guy J turns out to have played a blinder.

Genre: Progressive
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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