Many will be familiar with Koreless (Lewis Roberts) from his production work on FKA Twigs’ sublime album Magdalene; the producer has also released multiple singles and an EP. Agor is his widescreen debut, an album we suspect will head straight to the dance floors, now that they have reopened. While the video for “Black Rainbow” sports straightjacketed individuals rolling down a hill, we’re not that crazy; we’d rather move our bodies on solid ground. But the video does capture the concept of motion so central to this recording; this is not music for sitting still. Bonus track “Moonlight” (found only on the single) is a take on the Benjamin Britten interlude of the same name. Even better is “Joy Squad,” the aptly named second single: a stuttering work that sounds like a collision between a clock and a paddle ball.
In contrast to Magdalene, Agor (which means to open) uses female voice not as lyric, but as texture, most strikingly in the soaring “White Picket Fence.” This track travels from placidity to turbulence in a matter of minutes, tumbling directly into its shorter soulmate, “Act(s).” One recalls Hildegard of Bingen, especially when the electronic harpsichord pours from the heavens. These same sounds launch “Frozen,” which has naught to do with the film, instead preserving notes like bubbles in ice. A crystalline breakdown, revisited at the end, cements the association. The music’s asymmetry is its strength. The listener is never sure what’s coming, only that the shifts will seem instinctive rather than jarring.
“Shellshock” is another single-in-waiting, not to be confused with the New Order track of the same name. If we’re hearing the lyric correctly, it’s “wait, oh, wait, there is only one more summer,” an incredibly powerful line in light of what the world has recently endured. The message seems to be, live your life to its fullest, because you don’t know what is going to occur next. This will be the last summer for many ~ we just don’t know who will fall, or how. Shall we keep putting off our lives, or shall we plunge back into the fray, into friendship, into love, into crowds, doing what makes life worth living even at the risk of losing what we hold dear? The answer, according to Koreless, seems to be an emphatic yes. (Richard Allen)