Album review: KOAN Sound – Polychrome

KOAN Sound – a name that brings a flash of passion and joy onto any fan’s face, and over the past 8 years they have built up a devoted fan base.

They have an extensive catalogue of music that has solidified as something almost out of this world. Sometimes it’s heavy with a funky groove, sometimes it’s emotional and deep; but it’s always something that is full of majesty.

Over the course of their sound crafting career they’ve explored a variety of sounds within the bass music scene. From glitch hop, downtempo, drum and bass and not to mention bringing the Infinite Funk; despite changing their sound up with each EP the experience is still fundamentally that of a KOAN Sound release.

Other than their own releases, they have worked with the likes of Culprate, Asa, Sorrow, Reso, Gemini, and New Zealand’s party machine Opiuo. This group of electronic pioneers have collaborated in previous years to create music to raise awareness for the Movember charity. From this came, in my opinion, some of the UK’s most well-produced and perfectly executed electronic music. The duo has paved their way to legendary status with a very distinct sound and flawless production.

However, for the last three years the name KOAN Sound has acted as a trigger for fans who just needed to know: “WHEN IS THE ALBUM OUT? THE RUMOUR WAS SEPTEMBER ‘16 IT’S NOW 2018 AND IT’S NOT OUT YET WHY DID I GET OUT OF BED THIS MORNING?’”

After passing the original suspected release date the boys took to social media to explain the delay. They wanted to perfect their work for their debut album: 

We’re determined to make something we’re really proud of, and not rush it for release. –

As painful as it was to wait, I respected their decision. I knew whatever they had in store for us would be worth the wait… and boy was it.

On the 1st of November it was announced: Polychrome, the duo’s first full length album will be released on the 7th of December. A 2 x 12” LP, and a live show to boot? Music to my ears. Two singles were released between the announcement and the albums launch, one of which being one of my favourite tracks from the album, “Viridian Dream”. Despite being the 6th track in the album this is where I want to start.

To me “Viridian Dream” is a perfect combination of the sounds we’ve heard from past KOAN Sound releases. The strings layered throughout the track are a staple in their more moving tracks, the glitchy plucky percussion adding a bit of pace, and the organic swampy bass. All techniques that have been used by the duo in previous songs, but now perfected. The way the drums kick back in at the last two minutes of the track is almost reminiscent of “Starlite” from the duo’s Sanctuary EP which follows a similar pattern. Hearing “Viridian Dream” before the album’s release put the last three years of waiting into perspective. KOAN Sound are back!

Opening the album with “Cobalt”, we are dropped into the lush and futuristic world of Polychrome. This track is gorgeous; crystal-like liquid sounds fill the surrounding spaces in between the tight glitchy bass and futuristic synth sounds. A brilliant opening to the album, listening to it I can’t help but smile and nod my head along. Excited to hear what’s in store for me. Later on in the album we have the powerful Hydroplane. This track picks up the pace. The way the bass swells and warps, the fast percussion, the synth sounds that linger around the centre stage. This track is a brilliant testament to the duo’s awesome musical ability.

“Jongmyo” is a slow introspective track. Asian-inflected strings are laced throughout the track which feels like a nice call back to the Dynasty EP. The whole track feels alive and flows from start to finish. The album runs for 11 tracks and is full of surprises, I recommend taking the time to sit back and experience the whole thing. Polychrome is an impressive line-up of bass music. All the styles and techniques that they have experimented with in the past brought together in one album. KOAN Sound have not disappointed, the three-year wait proved to be worth it to hear this fantastic record. Now for the live shows!





Author: Jack, Bristol store