The Magic Lantern by KK and the Steampunk Orchestra

About 10 days ago I received an unexpected email from Kevin “KK” Kerrigan thanking me for the review of the the Mediaeval Baebes album Illumination, that I wrote back in October. In his email KK mentioned that he had produced the album and sure enough, in the credits for the album there it was: Produced and Mixed by KK – A 21stCenturyGenius Production. OK, now he had my attention, just as well I hadn’t deleted the mail as spam.

KK let me know about his new album, The Magic Lantern and asked if I was interested in listening to a copy. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of him before, so I started checking out the website link on his email, 21stCenturyGenius. He has worked with many artists including Bjork, Kylie, Britney Spears and of course the Mediaeval Baebes.

I googled ‘The Magic Lantern & KK‘ and found some samples on the Amazon website. After listening to the short samples, I liked what I had heard and went back to investigating KK’s site more. While reading the FAQs, I followed the link to KK’s blog, Thoughts from KK.. and got sucked into reading the posts there. I also checked out KKthemusic, which has details of his previous albums. Anyway, I emailed back and a couple of days ago the album arrived. I didn’t really get chance to listen to more than a couple of tracks as during the last couple of days I have been busy in the school installing software of the new computers that were installed over the summer and come the evenings I have been shattered.

Anyway, back to the album. The tracks of the album relate to the story written by KK on the inside of the insert. The story is of a girl, Aoide, who doesn’t speak words, only pure song. Esther Dee from the Baebes is the vocals for Aoide. The first thing that surprised me was how electronic a sound the album had; nothing wrong with that, I just wasn’t expecting it.

  • Aoide. An almost bell like accompaniment is provided to Esther’s single vocal notes.
  • Carousel. This is a lively track, very upbeat. As it progresses the music grows.
  • Pioneers. I’ll be honest, I don’t like this track. For me the sound is too synthesized and penetrating. A couple of minutes in it slides into another tune for 30 seconds and then returns to the original.
  • Cirque Du Lac. This is a mutilayered layered track, with a fast beat. As it moves into the violin accompaniment towards the end, it quietens and slows down.
  • The Magic Lantern. This is more an accompanied vocal track with Esther’s vocals returning lightly supported. It is a much slower track than the previous few.
  • Mermaid. This starts off fairly quiet until a minute in when the drum beat takes a more prominent part. The vocals return after a couple of minutes as the piece swells. Three quarters of the way through, the whole dymantics of the piece changes, the beat slows right down and it fades away to nothing.
  • Rhapsody. The violin starts this piece and I really like this. It has a slow flowing rhythm that grows in volume throughout.
  • Desert Isle. This has a fast beat and guitar and has a Spanish feel to it. It sounds like a trumpet as well, but I’m not sure.
  • Into the Jungle. I don’t know what to say about this piece. It was too busy for me. Too many competing tunes and rhythms.
  • Lazarus. This piece starts off slowly and quietly, before building. The vocals come in after a couple of minutes and the volume of the piece increases as it heads towards the finale. Just over halfway through, the original vocal theme is briefly reprieved. At the end it slowly fades away.

Would I have gone out and bought this album off my own back? Probably not. Did I enjoy the album? Yes, overall, yes I have. There is one track that just doesn’t work for me, but overall the album works. The more I listen to it, the less electronic it sounds. I guess you just have to persist with it and not take it at first impressions. I’ll have to investigate KK’s previous albums at some time.

I wish him best of luck with the album and appreciate the opportunity to listen and provide my feedback.

The album is released on 9th September 2009 and is available for pre-order from KKthemusic.

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