Isik Kural: In February Album Review
by Isik Kural in February opens with an eerie calm, like the first moment you open your eyes on a clear Sunday morning. Piano notes loop and shimmer with the grace of sunlight bouncing off the window, while Kural’s childlike voice wavers gently in a silky soft whisper. It’s as comfortable as a large duvet. Kural’s Blossoming Synths Evoke Ernest Hood’s Delicate Aura Neighborhoods or at Haruomi Hosono water a flower; in February similarly paints a charming, homemade portrait of domestic fantasy. In its gaping rhythm, Kural gives new meaning to the term “chamber pop”.
With in February, Istanbul-born, Glasgow-based Kural creates his own delightful take on laptop folk, combining field recordings, nylon-string guitar, synthesizers and muffled vocals, to psychedelic effect. Like an update to the Orchid Tapes sound of artists like Blithe Field and Ricky Eat Acid in the 10s, Kural’s music blurs the line between songwriting and sound design; the tracks can start with a clean acoustic melody before breaking up into burst tape loops of passing trains, or float in a haze of spinning bicycle sounds until they crystallize into a tender lullaby. Kural also adds a healthy dose of new age straight from the school Leaving Records, channeling the wide-eyed background music of Green-House and the soothing drift of Ana Roxanne into its mellow sonic breath. In doing so, in FebruaryThe tracks sound less like songs and more like music box melodies distilled into their ethereal essence.
Every sound seems as perfectly arranged as figurines in a dollhouse. The chirping of birds chattering in the background of “paperhat”, the hand drums that crackle under “hopefullyhopefully”, the cooing that floats in the frame on the charming “coral gables” – every piece of in February feels intentionally selected so as not to disturb the tranquility of the larger picture. On “Lullaby,” Kural soars over guest vocalist spefy’s delicate vocals with a high-pitched synth sound as light and serene as buzzing wine glasses; it’s so precious that it feels like the slightest wind can overturn everything. Kural’s own voice even sounds like children’s music, as if Raffi decided to conduct a sung version of Plantasia– and his quietly recited mantras about butterflies, lilies, seagulls and similar images in pastel pigments only add to in Februarythe fragile sense of innocence.
As the album draws to a close, Kural’s childish voice begins to waver on the edge of sickening, especially when the repetitive lyrics to “slippin” (which sounds like “to sleep”) begin to suggest music. literal siesta. But with the closing “film festival”, Kural delivers one of his most elegant songs: after a radiant minute-long opening hum, Kural enters with a spliced piano loop more pensive and ethereal than anything which preceded. where the rest of in February is bathed in a joyous glow, “film festival” is melancholic and mysterious, ending the record on an ambiguous note that expands Kural’s microscopic sense of intimacy into otherworldly realms. It reaffirms Kural’s subtle control and skillful ability to turn a few extraneous sounds into something so uplifting, heavenly, and warm. For all of in Februarysmallness, it overflows with loving sincerity.
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