KAADA is in the mood to dance and after listening to this album you will be too.
On first glance this danceability might feel a bit like a change of pace from his 2018 album Closing Statements, which we loved. As we said at the time, it is “an album that despite all expectations sounds anything but sad; in fact, the composer calls it ‘fun’.”
That sense of fun was audible. John Erik Kaada, to use the musician’s full name, clearly relished using the orchestral forces available to him and there’s a similar explorative joy to be found in If In A Thousand Years. In this case KAADA sampled sounds, creating his own virtual instruments (you can download them over on Wrong Tools), a process that he writes is “a discipline I impose on myself in order to broaden my palette. I have found that making sampler-instruments breaks me of lazy habits developed over time on traditional instruments”. The result works both on a superficial level—the album is super accessible, full of energy, variety and energy—and also on a deep level, with the curious amongst us left intrigued what precisely has been sampled.
As was true in Closing Statements, the track titles are great. “How to construct a time machine” is pleasingly tongue-in-cheek (no actual instructions are given!) but as you listen it’s easy to picture an inventor working busily at the cutting edge of science. The music of “No-w-Here” flits between here and somewhere unknown.
“This is what I am without you” is fantastic: it manages to be both funky and a bit weird, like someone who has long been in a relationship trying to remember how to dance on their first night out since becoming single. KAADA portrays them with affection: they still know how to groove, for sure, but everyone can agree that the old dance moves are a bit rusty. “The hero, the girl and the fool” is similarly great fun: the opening sounds very much like a portrayal of “the fool” but then enters a killer bassline and the percussion takes a more serious turn, for a minute at least. This reviewer has a feeling that the girl is trying to decide whether the hero is in fact a fool (and maybe the hero isn’t sure himself).
“Sunprobe” also opens with some funky percussion but abruptly takes a turn and sounds like a journey through space, then later the percussion returns and the piece opens out into an epic, like a wide angle shot of our sunprobe heading through the solar system. The album opens and closes with “Lightning” and “Ashes and sparks”, both of which explore extended piano technique.
This reviewer may be overreaching here but the titles seem to suggest an underlying sci-fi/fantasy theme, and the music feels like it would fit well with the complex space-opera universe of Iain M Banks’ wonderful Culture series, which is full of rich characters, action-packed storylines and wry humour. In any case, this is a thoroughly enjoyable album created by an adventurous and highly capable musician. Highly recommended. (Garreth Brooke)