Kllo: Backwater

Bill Murphy on February 1, 2018

There’s a prominent techno backbone to this Melbourne duo’s full-length debut, but it’s a far sight beyond the usual four-on-the-floor beats and whistly synthesizers. Folding in tastes of dream-pop, trip-hop, dub and old-school chillout, Backwater maps out a sonic journey that’s as inward-looking as it is club-ready. At the center of it all is Chloe Kaul’s breathy tenor; she has a natural timbre that’s perfectly suited to modern R&B, but without the excessive melismatic runs (thanks Mariah!). Think of more eclectic neo-soul singers like Amel Larrieux or even Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano, and you get the picture. “Last Yearn,” a bouncy trance groove driven by a simple clap track and a lone Rhodes-like synth, showcases how Kaul can make herself an indispensable part of a song; she crafts vocal melody after melody seemingly on the spot, all with a daunting breadth of emotion that never turns maudlin. And here, of course, it’s worth mentioning the production talents of Simon Lam, the duo’s other half, who layers soundscapes and beats with stark precision, without losing the human warmth behind the programming. Kllo has antecedents in the work of fellow Australians like Sia and Kylie Minogue, but they’ve held tight to an aura of experimentation and adventure by stripping the blueprint down to its indie basics . 

Artist: Kllo
Album: Backwater