You may know her from pop star Gotye's 2011 hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know," but Australian export Kimbra is anything but your typical pop singer. While her work as of yet has definitely held a large mainstream appeal, it's clear she has every ambition to break the mold and tread experimental ground for someone in her position.
Taking the road less traveled seems to be the motto for her as-yet-untitled upcoming record, her second after 2012's Vows, and Kimbra is definitely planning something big for those interested in any kind of experimental music. Let's take a look at what she's cooking up and why this should be one of your most anticipated new-album releases right now.
Her Approach "We talk a lot about quantum physics in the studio and how there are a lot of parallels between those theories and music," she tells FasterLouder in this interview from December 2013. "Essentially things change according to what is observing the matter in the room."
She takes that approach to its logical extreme and records with people in a studio together -- these are not collaborations by mail. That old school approach is something I know I personally value in music because I think it embodies a spirit of collaboration that is oftentimes lost nowadays. And speaking of collaborations...
Her Collaborators Holy shit, could this album be any more stacked in terms of the players involved? As stated in that interview, Kimbra has recruited an all-star cast to help her out. These aren't just the kinds of collaborators pop stars typically might think to work with, these are icons of experimental music.
Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Deantoni Parks of the Mars Volta, Ben Weinman of the Dillinger Escape Plan, John Legend, Bilal, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Van Dyke Parks are just some of the huge names appearing on this thing. Like Kimbra herself says, "musicians like Omar Rodríguez-Lopez take your songs to a place that you couldn't have done with your grandest ideas."
Her Producer Along with her host of collaborators, Kimbra has employed a hell of a producer this time out: Rich Costey. If you don't know who he is, then you might know his credits; Costey has produced, mixed and engineered records by bands as far apart as System of a Down, Mastodon, the Mars Volta, the Shins, TV on the Radio and Franz Ferdinand.
He's clearly got an ear for just about any music, though. The list goes on, including Fiona Apple, Interpol, Muse, Vampire Weekend and Sigur Ros. This guy is doing some of the best production work in the business today, and almost all of his records sound awesome. She definitely picked the right person for the job behind the booth.
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Her Minimalist Take For all the grandiose names on the album, Kimbra has been saying since 2012 that this record will be much more sparse and involve "less trickery" than Vows did. That means putting her vocals and songwriting at the forefront.
In an era where pop music is dominated by such trickery and hooks are buried under layers of overblown multitrack synths, it's great to hear someone espousing minimalism. Yeah, that was Kanye West's approach to Yeezus, but if Kimbra's record is half the album that one was, we're in for an album of the year contender.
Her New Versions of Old Songs In the live setting, Kimbra is already giving us some idea of where her next record is headed. Take a listen to the live performance of "Come Into My Head" from Vows, with new collaborator Ben Weinman, and compare it to the album version. Where the original was drowning in the same kind of studio trickery she's vowed to abandon, this version is funky, vibrant, alive and analog.
If we can extrapolate from this performance what she might be up to with her new album, this one is going to be hot as hell and a serious workout for Kimbra and her collaborators. It also means her live shows are about to be some must-see affairs.
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