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Fly Kin Mountain - Antioch Park (Budget Cuts, 2020)

The overflowing endlessness of nature's expanse becomes an audial experience unlike no other on this gently undulating beauty of a release.

To look out the window once in a while sometimes really does capture the imagination. It's something that has inspired musicians throughout the centuries, the simple pleasure in the surroundings allowing the mind to wonder down many paths of imagination, the creative spark that creates ripples through the various environments that inhibit our creative spectrum. The breeze of the wind, the hues and saturations of the fields, the blossoming canopies of the trees, the hazy mirage of the ocean and the horizon, all reflect us with their passive existence, creating a scene by themselves that we connect to on so many levels. It might be the calming enveloping, the scale between us and the sublime never endingness of it all, a relationship forged from vision and senses. We often hark back to our particular favourite place; it could be from a memorable holiday during our youth, a majestic scape of incomprehensible scale and grandeur, the quiet isolated peak to feel calm, or the constant bustling street corner to make us feel alive. How this relationship is forged always comes across in different ways and manners, due to in fact we all have our own personal relationship with the world we see around us. This interchangeability between spaces and places we take for granted, impact upon us or allow us to breath easy for a minute has always churned up some form of musical interpretation, be it the cultural and physical make up of cities inspiring young minds to great things, the chilled tones of the sparkling coasts of the Med or West Coast serving up vibes to compliment, or the vast misty mountains a accompaniment to the deep ambience of synth or folk driven tendencies. The memory of place and the everyday also play a big part in these creations, in that often we want to recreate the spirit of being stood in a place we cherish, that can be counteracted by perhaps a more informed and precise imagining of the area we live and interact with on a daily basis. Both notions give birth to interesting sets of languages, both seeped in our collective interest in how the world around us continues to inspires, both in obvious and less obvious ways.

These kinds of varying relationships come to the forefront with this new record from Brandon Knocke, operating under his new alias Fly Kin Mountain. Knocke has been a key player in the American house scene for a while now, being known for his deeply evocative take on the genre as he weaved and ducked around a common thread of delving constantly through the emotions of it all. His music often presents itself very openly, a series of chordal and progressive work outs that wrap themselves around the listener, leaving us with the most tender of feels. This was primarily achieved through his Body-San alias, but he announced himself primarily through his Discoverer character, where the building blocks of his current sound began to take root. It was here where the architecture for the sounds structures were designed, the records here expansive in depth and broad in their over arching emotional feel, the kind of records you're happy to dip a toe within and remain well and truly fulfilled throughout. The 2012 record 'Tunnels' blended between synth lead downtempo burners to fully envisaged and crafted worlds where space and time softly braked for a minute to cater for our listening needs. As Body-San, Knocke released two superb records that elevated his visions into the worlds of progressions and dance floors, his endlessly addictive and immersive take on dance music occupying listeners hearts for ever more. 2015's 'Corporate Interiors' and 2016's 'Shining the Money Ball' are both brilliant examples of contemporary deep house, texturally moving between differing plains to provide so many varying moods and contexts that repeat listening never, ever gets tiring. His two EP released as Body-San, last years 'Midnight' EP and 2017's 'Pacific Reasons', simply continued on the rich narrative that he weaves into his music, a collection of tunes that bliss out as much as they work out. Its a dynamic that Knocke has always pulled off to great effect, crafting small moments of sheer emotive bliss before swinging it all back into a groove that retains its relevance through brilliant interplays of pads and keys. Check it all out.

So now we arrive at his debut LP as Fly Kin Mountain, 'Antioch Park'. Inspired by his formative years living by the park, located in the town of Merriam, the record shifts through many memory and surely emotion related visions of the landscape, where all the little sounds and sights are conjured up superbly. By delving deep into the subconscious and the hazy feelings of times gone by, Knocke evokes in all of us our experiences of where urban meets landscape, and all the little elements and relationships we pick up on when situating ourselves within green spaces. The calm is measured with the energetic, the hopeful paired with the intuitive, and the vividness is served with a side of nostalgia blurred by time. So lets take a look.

Up first comes 'Voice Response', that begins with the echos of drums. Seemingly like a transmission coming through time, the chiming of keys come into play, creating a sense of melody that the track will look to hinge from. The drums slowly creep into play, beautifully manipulated to give a great sense of texture, feeding into the senses not just from a melodic point of view but rhythmically too. The keys are then counteracted with fuller pads, that begin high then move down low, with the drums now creating denser and more sustained foundations. The manner of its build up is quite profound indeed, inviting us in to a soundscape that begins to unravel with every twist and turn. As the track continues onwards, we are greeted by the swelling chords from underneath, slowly making their presence more acute and undeniable. Its slow and steady, but its very effective indeed, what an opener. Next comes 'Antioch Playground', and the transmissions haven't stopped there. The rhythm is comprised of a series of micro sequences that dwell on the ocean floor, adding up to a mass of sound that surprises and delights in equal measure. The cascades of keys and other melodic elements that breeze on top add just that extra piece to the puzzle, a track that seems to emphasise the ideals of interaction and change, more than the haze of memory. The track continually creates this mini evolutions, seemingly from within itself, as if Knocke was happy to allow the machines to take charge in deciding their fates. Its a mesmerising scene, you can almost reach out and touch it. Next comes 'Sorscha', and the senses are challenged once more. The arpeggio synth pans around, making a beeline for the middle of the structures slowly building around it. The light pads underpin the sequence, adding a kind of makeshift boundary, whilst the bass lightly fuds underneath, pulsating and swelling. The groove has locked us in by this point, and as the drums enter the picture its becomes even more compelling. As if the synth line was trying to catch up with its friends, the track pulls its elements together in a tight grip, as the pads finally demonstrate their full potential in terms of sonic excellence. Soft and gently undulating, they lightly populate the vastness of the track in front of us, only making a dent into proceedings as the tune comes to a close. Fuck me that was something else.

Next up comes 'If They Want It, We Don't Have It', and we travel once more into a new flavour. The drums and little chimey keys permeate this sunny opener, as the little key lines grow in number with each passing second. The light snares add forward momentum, before the groove fully swings into it. Then comes the momentum of pure bliss, and oh jesus is it immersive. The deep chords that come into view add so much expanse, so much grace and beauty to it all. They lightly flow over the instrumentals below, with each placement they pull us in even more, our bond to the music growing so very strong. The orchestra of sound continues to grow, as flowing key lines intersperse the chords further, creating this living, breathing world, where perhaps the vagueness is removed in favour of the vivid. This feels alive, it feels real. Next comes 'Cloud Salvo', and we once more move to another evocative level. The chordal progressions work alongside each other, interlaced with shifting sands that perhaps symbolise time and its relentless movement forward, with little lines and sequences at first operating in the shadows before taking time to come out on top. The track does more to envelope us in the way in which brilliant ambient music does, but this has a real sense of urgency to it. The levels of momentum and movement within the pads craft a whirlwind of interactiveness, whilst the textural considerations make us feel like we could just reach out and touch something with our bare hands. It has that sort of intelligent sensibility that a lot of the early 90s techno producers went for, where they explored the softer side of their sounds with boundless and expressive downtempo numbers, that never ever lost the urgency of their more energetic cuts. Its brilliantly pulled off. To finish up this wonderful record, we have a re working of the album opener by label mate Julius Theory. A dubby take on things, it reworks the cut very smartly indeed, taking on the energies and tonal experiences conjured up by the rest of the record and injecting it into the one track that retained a sort of formalised beat structure. Its soft and chuggy, placing emphasis on the rebounding stabs that exist within the middle, as the faint kick provides a strong underbelly. Well then, that was something else.

Its hard to think of a record that can pull off so expertly the balance between ambience ideals and dance music intentions, alongside that being able to infuse that so effortlessly with concepts revolving around memory and place. Knocke utilises his strengths to the full here, providing a series of scenes that tell a vivid tale indeed of his youth and the park itself, but allowing enough room for us to be accommodated. Be it the long build up to the drums, the soft chordal progressions that build and build til we imagine it ourselves, to the attention to how texture brings us in even further, its just pulled off so damn well. This is brilliant, end of. Check this out immediately, please.

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