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TOKiMONSTA Creature Dreams Review

EP. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A delectable taste of a developing production talent well worth watching.

Mike Diver 2011

Any release bearing the Brainfeeder brand can be assumed to be a quality slice of contemporary electronica – the imprint, ruled by jazz-glitch-hop mastermind Flying Lotus, has a near-faultless track record to date. But TOKiMONSTA might be the most arresting talent yet to surface through the stable’s superb selections, Creature Dreams a fantastical midnight waltz through woozy beats and sublime atmospherics, a romantic excursion under starry expanses.

TOKiMONSTA ("toki" means rabbit in Korean, apparently; "monsta"… is something that lives under your bed, right?) is Los Angeles producer Jennifer Lee – a female presence in a scene dominated by laptop-mashing males. While softer and calmer at its centre than the work of labelmates like Lorn and Teebs, her music’s design isn’t informed directly by her sex; it’s more likely that this well-studied but emotionally rich sound is the product of development, of trial and error. Active for some time (though this EP is likely to comprise an introduction for many), Lee is no newcomer to the world of experimental electronica, and has enjoyed limited overseas exposure – she toured the UK back in 2009, and released through London-based label Ramp Recordings. Creature Dreams, then, is the latest evolution of an artist steadily developing a very singular voice.

Not that she uses her own, literally. Creature Dreams’ vocals come from Gavin Turek, another LA native (and a she, not a he) whose soulful contributions decorate Darkest (Dim) and Little Pleasures: not numbers to bop to, but to relax with. The latter has a really warm, slightly trip-hop feel to it: more mid-90s Massive Attack than coffee-table Morcheeba. Light acoustic guitar on Stigmatizing Sex gives an otherwise solely synthetic piece a nice organic quality, and Bright Shadows is a skittering delight that ticks many of the same (quirky) dancefloor-pleasing boxes as another inventive individual on the Brainfeeder roster, Daedelus. Mood-wise, this is a set best listened to at twilight.

At just seven tracks, Creature Dreams never sags, and such shortness means that many a listener will feel the urge to go around again immediately. Lee’s debut album, Midnight Menu, emerged in 2010, but through Japanese subsidiary Listen Up. After this delectable taster/teaser, a new LP for Brainfeeder, which enjoys better UK distribution, can’t land soon enough.

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