Kubbi — Taiga
It's not often that I blindly buy albums these days, but this happens to be one of those rare instances. I had seen the atmospheric black metal project Disquiet randomly shout-out Kubbi, then good friend echoed the sentiment shortly after, and that was sufficient for my purposes. I put a lot of stock in those two sources, so I was rather unsurprised that I immediately took a liking to Taiga. I didn't know what to expect initially, but what I got was a mix of atmospheric soundscapes and catchy bangers which the description "electronic music" is ill-equipped to describe. The closest parallel I can find in my own collection is Tycho, although that is far from a perfect match.
The album opens with a very slow, almost ambient introduction in "Retrospect," and even the following track, "Wake," takes a little bit to get going. Once the tempo picks up, however, things stay fairly brisk for the remainder of Taiga. Kubbi manages to combine a number of various electronic styles on this record, without borrowing too heavily from any one of them individually. There are elements of dubstep, chiptune, drum & bass and more, but each track feels like a coherent brew all of its own. For example, "Prey" features the expected deep bass sweeps of dubstep, but it's hardly "the dubstep song," it merely borrows a staple sonic element and tastefully works it into a unique composition. The same can be said of the sparing use of chiptune synths throughout the record, and both get combined to great effect on "Spiritdancer."
"Hunter" is the only track on Taiga to feature vocals, and it uses them to maximum effect. Even with the beautiful mix of soulful vocals and brooding piano, I wouldn't classify "Hunter" as a straight-up pop tune, but it's very close — what it lacks is the monotonous repetition of a simple chorus hook. Every track feels unique and fresh, none of the beats feel like an unwavering metronome; overall this is a well-crafted collection of material. The introductory track is fairly unremarkable — and I often skip it — but what remains is 38 minutes of quality electronic music that should appeal to a wide audience.
The record manages to feel quicker than it actually is. No time is wasted, the pacing is perfect and production is excellent as well. Despite borrowing from a wide range of styles, Taiga feels every bit like a fresh, current collection of music. Even in moments where the chiptune synths get used don't feel much like a throwback to 8-bit gaming, rather just another tasteful and appropriately used instrument. Kubbi left a strong impression with this record, and instantly made a fan in me. I'd really like to hear more material like "Hunter" on future releases, but even if that doesn't come to pass I'm excited to see what comes next from this project. For now, I strongly recommend giving this record your attention.
Although it feels a little odd that it took a Canadian black metal band to recommend a Norweigan electronic producer, but what matters is the end result. Kubbi's mix of genres, with a sharp ear for production and composition makes Taiga an early frontrunner for one of my favourite albums of 2018. This record is a great example of how to demonstrate influences without wearing them like a T-shirt. There is a lot of replay value in Taiga, and "Hunter" is an infectiously well-crafted song which — if you listen to nothing else on this album — I cannot recommend enough (link).
Release date: March 10th, 2018
Record label: Independent
Kubbi — music
Andreas W. Røshol — vocals
- Cold Snap
Published: June 6th, 2018.