As soon as Kine‘s Meditations in April Green began with its lo-fi repetitive grooves that sounded like they were recorded through a hat, I suspected I’d dig it. It’s like the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00’s never happened: here we are, slumped on a misshapen couch next to a lava lamp, the air smelling of cheap incense and bucket-bongs, physical eyes closed but spiritual eyes opening, and reality being subsumed into the groove. It’s simple yet so effective. The muffled nature of the instrumentation doesn’t lessen this stoner-pad insulation/immersion one iota. The vocals (clear, crisp, and occasionally vocoded) kick in, and it’s like classic Faust or Can, with Đào Anh Khánh doing a superb impersonation of Damo Suzuki’s post-language schtick, but not in a way that is annoying or pastichey, but feels authentic and transcendent.
(Author’s Note: The vocals may actually be in a proper, real language, and not a post-language at all. I’m one of those terrible privileged Westerners who never had to bother learning more than one language, and so I actually have no idea. They’re definitely not English though, which gives the whole project what would have been called in more racist times an ‘exotic’ sound. To be absolutely clear, for all I know, they’re Vietnamese love songs, shopping lists, or descriptions of how to make the perfect cheesecake, but from my linguistically-ignorant point of view, the fact that they’re not generally recognisable words—to me—made my personal subjective experience all the better. So many of the potentially excellent songs that I have heard over the years have been destroyed by terrible lyrics.)
Musically, Meditations in April Green is completely constructed around repeated grooves and floaty synths (with guitar by Zweiman from $50 Trumpet, and synths and garrahand by Pepper and Brien from PAS), and I’m going to assume it’s primarily improvised. It certainly has that feel; having played in countless improvisational groups myself, I think I recognise—in a couple of sections—that wonderful terrifying moment when one ‘movement’ is clearly over, and everyone realises that they’re floundering around aimlessly and have absolutely no idea where it’s going next, and the moment is poised frozen between a fear that the magic’s gone and it’s all going to be shit from now on, and a heartfelt trust that it’s just about to fall off a new precipice into somewhere unexpectedly beautiful. Personally, I love those moments, because that’s what proper improvised experimentation is about: leaping into the void without a parachute and trusting that you and your companions have, through years of tireless practise and perseverance, actually grown wings.
This is most definitely an aptly titled album: the whole thing does feel like a meditation, a super-laid-back psychedelic ride through a bunch of musicians angling away from the mainstream, free-minded with eyes closed to expectation. Not every track is as relaxed as the excellent eighteen-minute opener—some parts are chaotic and explosive, while others are noisy and confused—but the lack of drums gives it all a certain buoyancy that means even the chaos remains detached and suspended, whereas percussion would keep it firmly earth-bound, solidified, and joined to the brown clay of reality.
I really enjoyed Meditations in April Green, and I hope the parties involved keep their lava lamp burning long into the metaphorical night (because, unlike an actual non-metaphorical lava lamp, it doesn’t need to be turned off after eight hours to avoid overheating).
Oh, and are you asking yourself, what’s a garrahand? Apparently it’s one of those instruments you get when your danger-loving friend carefully cuts different-sized shapes in an old empty gas bottle, resulting in some cool tin-drum-meets-gamelan-kind-of instrument that you can plug in to a whole series of effects pedals and trip the fuck out to. Yes, I had to Google it too.
01) Meditation 1
02) Meditation 2
03) Meditation 3
04) Meditation 4
05) Meditation 5