A Serbian artist I used to know once told me that it wasn’t very hard to write an entire novel during wartime. The present was horrifying, and you don’t think about the future much when you might die at any moment, so you retreat into the life of the mind. It’s why the arts and sciences flourish, he said, in places and times when you think neither has a chance.

The war came to Ukraine five days after Kirik returned from a European tour, according to a GoFundMe from that time. His hometown, Kherson, was notable as the largest city occupied by the Russians during the initial stages of the invasion. Eight months later the city where Kirik had run a vinyl label called Memory Remains was liberated.

This story isn’t part of the press campaign but it’s useful information for listening to On Distance, which is one of the most extraordinarily bright and even outright sunny EPs hitting the racks this year. On Distance must have been made amidst a background of or in the aftermath of dark and tragic circumstances, yet belies none of the fear, sorrow or existential dread of music made under or just after military occupation by a foreign power. Maybe that’s the power of music and this music in particular. It’s music that’s desperately alive, joyously, sweatily, sloppily full of life and eager to share it.

On Distance is a collaboration between Kirik and Imbue, a trio that mixes electronic music (and, when performing, a DJ) with live instruments. Together they made four tracks of swirling grooves, eclectic and unusual arrangements with a kind of grit, a texture and the sounds of human hands hitting strings and things. The effect is intoxicating: On Distance is one of those instrumental records that you can listen to a hundred times and still be surprised the 101st time you listen, like a dense film with an asynchronous plot that reveals itself a little bit at a time.

The title track is a slick dose of cosmic, disco-inflected jazz (or maybe the dream of what you thought “acid jazz” would sound like before you actually heard any). Hands chase guitar licks down the fretboard and roll over into a rhythm section wound up really tight. Old heads will go mad for this one, drenched in the classic Philly soul-with-strings (and one that mimics a scream. It’s uncanny and it sends a chill down your spine.)

The bassline wanders all over on “All Right” with Latin percussion that sounds very out-of-the-box — maybe like a dude so high on the sound he’s making that he’s totally zoned out into a machine-like swing. More high-octane grooves on “Lovers” with a fat bubbling bassline and isolated jazz guitar licks spiraling in the mix. This EP is, in a word, warm. It’s embracing, the kind of music that loves you back.

⚪️ On Distance Tracklisting

Kirik & Imbue: On Distance EP (Memory Remains / 12" Vinyl)
A1. "On Distance" (6:51)
A2. "All Right" (7:36)
B1. "Lovers" (7:26)
B2. "Son Us On" (7:45)

⚪️ Disclosure Statement

This record was submitted as a promo.


5 Mag Issue 211
Out January 2024

RESOLUTION: This was originally published in 5 Mag Issue #211 featuring Anané, Toribio, Black Eyes, Danny J Lewis, Beppe Loda and more. Help keep the vibe alive by becoming a member for $2/month and get every issue in your inbox right away!

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