Necessary for my review is a picture of Real Blasty‘s album artwork, as this is an album where the cover artwork is not simply customary. The artwork on the cover of Kyle Andrew’s newest album provides a context for the music that, as the album progresses, this music attempts to escape from. If perhaps not that dramatic, then the music at least proves that it is not best described and encapsulated by the connotations invoked with the help the album artwork, and this allows the diverse musicianship of Kyle Andrews to speak louder than the zestful colors on the cover.
Illustrated on this front cover is a boom-box with a palette of bold, electric colors that fill in the many distinct panels. Each of these colors are brightened by the background, a stark and unfading white. This vibrant color scheme repeats itself both on the back cover of the slip insert and on the face of the CD. What I pull from this color scheme is an infectious spirit of excitement and lightness that, when greeted with such energy in nearly all parts of the album package, I expect to pervade through the album as a whole. This expectation is perhaps informed by other albums that present themselves in similar fashion, such as Junior Senior’s D-D-Don’t Don’t Stop the Beat, an album that prominently features a similar color scheme on its front cover and hasn’t a track that lacks exuberance.
This expectation of Real Blasty is only affirmed by the first track on the album “Sushi.” The rapid and descending keyboard pulls you into the song immediately, and almost challenges you to tap along on your very own air piano. There is knowledge, however, that it’s okay if you know nothing of scales or fingering. One might as well bang away drums or air guitar, because it feels as if the song is immediately accepting of any and all ecstatics, as long as one releases joyfully. This atmosphere of acceptance is how I can best describe the spirit of “Sushi.” It is the feeling that everyone can dance, felt from the first stroke of the keyboard to the final cut that fuzzes sharply into silence.
This spirit of excitement and acceptance, though, does not necessarily follow through to the next track. Compared to the running steps taken by “Sushi,” the lead-in to the second track, “Naked in New York,” practically plods its way into the first verse. As the song grows and the instrument tracks multiply, the song continues to get harder and heavier, another departure from the lightness of “Sushi.” “Naked in New York” is not by any means unrecognizable; the devotion to the electronic and the building of energy are still to be found, but the call to dance and to move and to celebrate, so loud and clear in the previous track, is perhaps not even sounded in “Naked in New York.”
There are many departures from the spirit invoked by the album artwork, each of them significant in differing aspects. Exemplars include the track “Call and Fade,” a triumph of the quiet mouring of the unrequited, and the streamlined speed and rocky guitars of “Wavering Between The Real and The Abstract.” It is exceptional, though, that the album nonetheless seems whole, that the numerous diversions and exhibitions of Andrew’s musical skill do not serve the listener as a series of distractions, but, indeed, as an album. This may be because, while the exuberance I attributed to both the album artwork and the first track “Sushi” does not seem to carry through the rest of the album, the atmosphere of acceptance does. The feeling that everyone can dance, that no expression can be incorrect, is what the track “Sushi” imparts to each of its listeners, and as the album progresses, expression reaches beyond the ecstatics featured in “Sushi,” though nothing given to the listener is rejected as invalid. All expression of Kyle Andrews, from mourning to jubilation, is released with the joy and the assurance that nothing is incorrect; nothing is outside.
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