Monday, September 28, 2020
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Artist: Kin Leonn
Title: Commune
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Kitchen Label
The debut album from Singapore-born, London-based Kim Leonn is a ten-track collection of short chilled-out and near-ambient musical ideas that demonstrate that truly ambient music is international- or, as a more cynical spin on it, that this is a very homogenous work built from familiar parts and treatments that traverse the border with cliché. Organic instrumentation at the core is draped in electronic processing and decoration. There’s piano (of course), long string pads, wind-jangled bell noises, reverb-bathed sparse guitar noodling- the works. It’s a recipe with very familiar ingredients.

Most of the pieces stay under the five minute mark, and several follow the same format- a slow fade in of the general atmosphere, which fades away to allow individual elements and layers to the fore before settling down into an established calm which then drifts away. There are a handful of more sudden changes, such as the ending of “Detached”, but they’re rare.

But despite feeling like this is an exercise in chill-out ambient by numbers, it’s certainly not bad. The piano work on “Visionary” is a highlight, following on from the arpeggio-happy “Somewhere” into something much more lyrical and introspective that comes together nicely when joined by a pulsing kick and soft synth to form something that’s diverted very slightly in the direction of synthwave.

Like a velvet cushion, it doesn’t have to be special or imaginatively made to feel plush and relaxing, and that’s what’s going on here. High quality textures, pieced together in simple and reliable ways to give an end product that’s very pleasant without being remarkable.


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