Best Albums of 2019: Kaya Project + Hibernation

The Ambient Mixes 2 (Bandcamp)
Ambient Re-Works 01 (Bandcamp)

Active since the mid 1990’s, UK composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Seb Taylor is still setting standards in downtempo electronica for others to aim for. If you don’t know the name you might recognise his more notable aliases: the melodic world beat of Kaya Project and the more experimental electronica mashups of Hibernation. These two remix albums are from those projects and both of them are exceptionally good. 

Kaya Project’s The Ambient Mixes 2 picks up where the first volume from 2015 left off, distilling rather than watering down 12 melodic beat-driven original tracks from the Kaya catalogue. As before, most of the drum tracks are gone but it’s not just about stripping out the beats; all kinds of atmospheric nuances emerge in their place along the silky synths, non-English vocals, guitars, zithers, violins, percussion and sundry other instruments. Many of these pieces are not remixes as such, they are reinventions. This is the deep end of world music, woven and rewoven with impressive skill.

Ambient Re-Works 01 is the first time Seb has applied the same kind of remix treatment to groove-laden tracks from his Hibernation catalogue and it’s a revelation. Hibernation was always the weirder, quirkier cousin of Kaya Project, allowing his more psychedelic and experimental sides to come to the fore. Removing a lot of the glitches and harsher beats from the original tunes and remixing the rest has given us a collection of intricate, trippy little tapestries that defy easy description. And despite this complexity, the tunes shine through. Colours that were once almost hidden are suddenly in the foreground, especially the languid jazzy retro lounge elements and 70’s Morricone-style wordless vocals. Ambient Re-Works 01 is quite brilliant, and it doesn’t require any familiarity with the original versions to draw you in. 

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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