A great EP from the rising London producer, which bodes well for future releases.
Mike Diver 2012
A still-rising producer in his mid-20s, Londoner Kwes has already received his share of plaudits and been courted by many a collaborator. Having caught the music bug through toying around with an organ aged just four, he’s since worked beside talents including Speech Debelle, Dels and Damon Albarn.
He’s also embarking on what can be a hazardous path for any behind-the-scenes sort: out from the studio and into the spotlight as a solo artist. But if these four tracks are an indication of what is to come, Kwes’ output could well eclipse many a critically adored LP that he’s had the pleasure to be associated with.
Meantime, his second EP after a Young Turks-released four-tracker of 2010, does a lot with little: three tracks contain vocals, but each hits a sweet spot with incredible accuracy, doing in a few minutes what some bands take an album to deliver.
Closer Igoyh is perhaps the piece that lingers longest once the collection’s spun its course. Seven minutes of understated, atmospheric synth-pop, peppered with typewriter percussion, its lasting impression is marked by some memorable, heartfelt lines (example: "Worthwhile love is a handful"). Think Kele Okereke on the greatest Bloc Party slow-burner the returning indie-rockers never nailed and you’re in the right stylistic neighbourhood; albeit one where basement-dwelling bassheads rub shoulders with artsy indie boys hanging off their balconies. It’s a distant cousin of BP’s So Here We Are, fizzed and popped into contemporary relevance by Kwes’ already identifiable production.
Bashful is more indicative of the man’s grasp on instant-fix pop tectonics, a sprightly-of-step affair balancing its zippiness with an underlying tension and strange air of uncertainty channelled via plaintive vocals. It shares certain similarities with Hot Chip (one of many acts Kwes has supplied a remix for), achingly vulnerable but putting on a formidable front of fortitude. The piece presents its compositional intelligence via smoke and mirrors, as shyly as its title implies, and by doing so ensures accessibility over exclusivity.
Honey has a rattling RnB swagger to its stride, but sunshine vibes keep it on the straight and narrow as loved-up lyricism tumbles forth; and opener Klee is a deliciously gentle-of-reveal textural piece that’s reminiscent of a Clams Casino rap production stripped of introspective rhymes.
If the name never registered before, note it now: Kwes has the necessary nous to bless the commercial territories of planet pop with great things indeed.