Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kenji Runs Unto The End

One of the most underrated artists in the 80s inspired synth scene is Kenji Run. I've been a fan of this producer for at least year and a half now (going back to May 2012 on Synthetix.FM here)  and there is something about the emotional connection this man has to his music that I find incredibly raw to listen to. Every song Kenji Run creates is fraught with fragile longing and passionate soliloquies of love both requited and unrequited.

The soundscape Kenji Run creates is a direct homage to early 80s synth music with a modern splicing of subtle ideas. The robotic voice of Kenji Run is one of the most dominant aspects of the production as the the lyrics are intimated in machinelike tones that add an even more tragic layer to the context of melodies. Kenji Run has also begun incorporating layers of sometimes solemn and sometimes jubilant choirs into the synthscape which adds even more humanity to the experience and individualises the aesthetic of 'Unto The End' even further. The combinations of sounds are alluring and welcoming, like a conversation with a close friend, each piece of music on 'Unto The End' feels important and valuable, due in great part to the emotional investment felt through every composition.

Throughout this album, helpfully attributed by the cover art as well, there is a feeling of this experience being a eulogy of some description. A remembrance of lost love, a putting to rest of pain and the embracing of those who've left our lives into our fondest memories. The depth can be severe, cutting to the quick and opening scars once thought healed but it's this involvement the listener can experience with this album that makes it so special.

The simply titled 'Romance' initiates Unto The End and brings in the Kenji Run colour palette of deep grays stained with neon into clear view. The happiness and upbeat nature of 'Romance' sets itself into o the most joyous chapter on the record, the refrains are glowing with the thrills of passion and elation of the moment. The music beats with a heart of radiant 80s love and it's passages reinforce the vocal performance beautifully.

The opening idea of 'Romance' is continued in 'Midnight Kiss' although fault lines and cracks are beginning to appear in the once perfect facade of the first track. The melodies are robust with direction and spirited in delivery, while ghostly elements begin to creep into the atmosphere as things begin to turn from happiness to longing despair. The cold night allows the darker side of love to become the dominant force, while the yearning heart is plunged deeper into darkness.

With the rains come a cleansing of the palette, but the new day is hidden from the warmth of the sun and the forlorn heart grows cold in it's solitude. The tragedy of the moment is uttered by the mechanised voice of betrayal, climbing melodies scramble for understanding but gain little ground as the heaviness of the atmosphere begins to collapse with each repeated refrain. This becomes an obsessive mantra on the path to further despair, 'Together Until I Die' is a state of mind that only exists as a fantasy.

'Our Life As Meteorite' takes the obsession to the next level as the twist of the knife stabs with the melodies as the memories are skewed into a painfully hopeless place. This is the Kenji Run magic running at full speed, head long into ultimate emotional torture. The repeated refrain, the rising choirs, the mocking percussion, it's a symphony of servility falling on unfeeling ears and we can but watch the spiral continue downwards into hell.

This heavy atmosphere is taken on a beautifully poetic side story in 'Submarine' as the need is finally recognised to escape from the current situation. The fantasy of losing the pain of reality through a dimension under the sea gives a twinge of hope. The music is buoyant and the warm melodies are welcoming, but is this a safe harbour or another falsehood? The imagination is given to a flight of fancy before reality washes in with a dose of harsh, cold reality.

The music is so powerful throughout this album as the pieces are written with such emotional conviction that the vocals become inexorably linked to them. In the title track this is absolutely apparent. 'Unto The End' begins in the twilight of lost love and works into a psychological drama of rejection that is unable to be comprehended. Synths are crushing in their presence, loaded with ill intents and the constant refrain brings the madness ever closer. This piece is stunning in it's emotional power, and the feeling of Kenji Run's soul being laid bare is intimated with much beauty.

As the emotional walls fall down in a slow motion collapse the memories of the past offer slight comfort amidst the anguish in 'She Is My Only'. In this piece in particular the lyrics are conveyed on the teetering point of the precipice that threatens to end all rational and cohesive thought. Beautiful melodies attempt to lighten the mood and rekindle the romance but they only manage to sharpen the painful recollections further.

The pleading is unrelenting in 'One Last Chance' as the air of finality begins to take it's shape. Synthual comforts are no longer working and the oblivious vocal track implores some kind of reconciliation. Intermittent breakdowns and melodic explorations search for fragments of happiness amid the emotional carnage, alas with no success.

The eulogy of passion is completed with 'I Regret'. The despondency and bitterness is a driving force that conjures choirs and percussion in equal measures as final goodbyes are torn and ripped through clenched fists and grinding teeth. The end offers little solace, the pain is never going go away and the eternal threatening solitude opens it's arms wide, offering a final resting place for the eternally broken heart.

Kenji Run manages to keep the focus on Unto To End completely in a negative space without suffocating the listener over the course of the album. His ability to make the music just light enough to offer some brightness to the void like darkness of the lyrical content is what makes the experience incredibly intimate. The emotional rollercoaster is a terrifying ride into our own weaknesses and the heartfelt beauty uttered in every syllable of every lyric is exceptionally well executed.

Kenji Run's Unto The End is presented by Foulharmonic Records on iTunes, Amazon and Juno Download. This record is such an intimate window into this producer's personal life that a voyeuristic element is sometimes present. We get to experience this relationship breakdown first hand and we're taken with him into the darkest depths of emotional fallout and the vain attempt to pick up the pieces. This is truly a Synthetix Reference Experience in every way, the songwriting is impeccable with each chapter allowing the vocal and melodies to describe the entire painful story and I, most certainly, felt every moment of heartbreak, betrayal, hopelessness and delusion. Telling a story is one thing, but feeling that story is something very special indeed.

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