Sometimes, the music that you need is not something fast-paced and fun, it’s something pensive. Something that makes you take a deep breath and focus on each second as it seems to pass for an eternity. A couple of weeks ago, Kid Koala released his first album in 5 years: an ambient record titled Music to Draw to: Satellite. This patient album is beautiful in its minimalism, encouraging peaceful reflection in a time of turbulence.
Kid Koala is known for being one of the few DJs around who still spins vinyl. Music to Draw to: Satellite has this feeling of constant, slow rotation in which you can almost feel the record spinning at a snails pace. Long, drawn out tones warp slowly, shimmering as they hit a sharp peak. Listening to this album feels like you are standing in a resonant cathedral with an orchestra of people circling wine glasses with their fingers to produce a chorus of slowly ringing tones. When I think about the album title, I picture an artists sitting at a drafting table in a lonely shuttle orbiting the Earth. The way the steady sounds produce by Kid Koala has an other-worldly, ethereal quality that is both eerie and relaxing.
Every two or three tracks, the voice of Emiliana Torrini provides a melody to float over the ambient sounds. While that may seem like something that would cause a minimalist album to stray from its counterparts, her whispering voice that gently bends its way through each song is ambient in its own right. Because she is the only vocalist on the album, her voice coming in every few songs feels thematic, like a way of refocusing you into the record. The approach she takes to accompanying Kid Koala is perfectly fitting.
Kid Koala has a small run of intriguing concerts to celebrate the release of Music to Draw to: Satellite. Since I have not yet experienced it, I’ll just paste the official description of the concept:
“Kid Koala will mark the album’s release with a special ‘turntable orchestra’ concert series using audience collaboration to create meditative musical pieces in real-time. Each audience member will sit at their own turntable station and play custom-cut Satellite Orchestra Tone Vinyl records and effects pedals (designed by Earthquaker Devices specially for this show), conducted by Kid Koala. Satellite shows will take place this winter with multiple shows in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.”
The Ottawa shows will be taking place from February 16-18 as part of the National Arts Centre Presents concert series, and I know that I will be part of the orchestra. I highly recommend grabbing tickets before they’re all gone for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime type show.