Kiyoko – Sea Of Trees


You’d be forgiven for thinking this new album from the Auxiliary outfit (ASC’s label) was conjured in the deepest forests of Japan, surrounded by calm lakes, endangered flowers and Geisha girls. Maybe it was… but given it’s Manchester’s answer to the 30BPM that lie between the 140 and 170 range, I have a feeling this is just one-hell of a superb depiction of escapism from a cold and wet studio in Northern England. That’s just my kind way of saying… transporting a listener in this kind of way requires one hell of a talent.

Don’t let my cold light-of-day put you off. You can listen to this album and not touch the shores of Europe let alone England. And, just like my perceived origins, you’d have no clue as to what type of producer would be be behind such an album.

Not alone, Synkro (Joe McBride) has teamed up with Bering Strait (Jack Lever) – a newcomer it seems, to flip his original sound, to the most extent, on it’s head. If Synkro is the pairs masculine side, then the delicate touches of Kiyoko are the epitome of a feminine side – or at least that’s what ‘Kiyoko’ translates to.

Needless to say, the Japanese influence in here is rife. From the background vocal samples to the three-stringed Shamisen sounding guitars, three things stay true to Synkro’s style:

Emotion; it’s there in buckets and the atmosphere in ‘Sea Of Trees’ is pitched perfectly in between considered observation and personal reflection. Sit back and let the swathes of analogue sounds immerse.

Attention to detail: ‘Sea of Trees’ is beautifully simple, but there’s the odd touch of perfection, take the squelchy sounds balanced against a simple guitar in ‘Open’ for example.

And lastly, spaced-out beats. Just like the autonomic sound Synkro is becoming versed with, this album bases itself on some beautiful head-nodders and scarce percussion. Take ‘Shinagawa’ – probably the most upbeat track on the album, but definitely one of the best.

Like the impact Desolate’s ‘Invisible Insurrection‘ had on 2011, ‘Sea of Trees’ is one of the best albums of the year, and all for the right reasons. It’s come out of nowhere, from a producer experimenting with something new, and it’s refreshingly unique. This one will be on many ‘best-of’ reviews come end of year if it gets the traction it deserves…

 ‘Sea Of Trees’ is available as MP3/FLAC via Boomkat and of course, with any CD orders I’m sure the label would appreciate those direct here.