Mkaio: The Devil Lived

Mkaio: The Devil Lived- After having been so pleased by Mkaio’s earlier 2014 release, Stars • Snow, I decided to check out their latest compilation entitled, The Devil Lived. Firstly, the thing that I appreciate most about Mkaio is the sense of concept, using digital and sampled recordings which play into the theme of the album. The thing that impressed me most about this work in particular was actually the track listing; each song title comprises a sentence that poses the idea for an overall story. When put together it reads: “The Devil Lived In The Garden With Me Showing Us All The Way Down.” Along with the album cover, this simple phrase leaves the listener with a sort of narrative prompt that inspires bizarre images, most likely based in one’s knowledge of ancient mythology.

As far as the music goes, I was left with mixed feelings. The first track, ‘In The Garden’, starts us off with sampled forest sounds, low pads and high drones, eventually opening up into a straight-beat chill-wave setting with two alternating chords. as the song progresses there are several shifts in the story, however the pace remains the same throughout. Towards the end, after the reemergence of the percussion, is where the real reward lies in the form of a subtle change of chords. The minute ambient textures are the strongest elements of this track, making the sound full and rich with detail, however, the song as a whole did not move me so greatly.

‘With Me’ I had to skip every on each listen-through because it felt too much like a contemporary hip-hop tune equipped with trap beats and uninteresting, indiscernible vocals. To be frank, I just got bored with it. I will say that I did enjoy the percussion section at one minute before the ending despite it’s repetitive nature. Luckily, my hopes were rekindled by the following number.

‘Showing Us All’ stood out to me as the most interesting track of the four. It contains one of my favorite music expressions, a three-over-two polyrhythm (meaning a slow triplet figure overtop a straight beat), something so enjoyable and interesting that it gives the track a strong pulse, and it’s repetition is more than welcome to my ears. The vocals on this track were another very captivating feature of this song, down-pitched and auto-tuned to a cool, almost hypnotic degree.

At a total of 26 minutes, the album wraps up with ‘The Way Down’ a very ambient and entrancing song with ghostly qualities. It’s peaceful and moves slowly in a progressive direction. It is, by far, the most pleasing track of this collection, certainly the kind of music you’d expect to come out of the chill-wave genre. In all ‘The Devil Lived’ provokes inspiration in many circumstances, but for the most part leaves me wanting more, and though that might be asking a lot of Mkaio’s aesthetic style and vision, I have no doubt that he can deliver… 7/10

‘Showing Us All’

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