Kesswa: Soften EP (self-released, 2019)

June 19, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kesswa: Soften EP

Detroit-based singer/songwriter Kesswa recently played a sold-out concert at Underground Resistance headquarters, which she recorded for a release. I didn’t make it to that performance, but I saw her open for Sudan Archives at Deluxx Fluxx in March (the last show I’ll be able to attend for a long time) and it was fantastic. Soften is her self-released debut EP, and it’s a brief but marvelous showcase for what she does. Her fluid voice matches the lush, hard-to-define sound, flowing between jazz, soul, techno, and broken beat. The incomparable Ahya Simone adds harp throughout, and it’s seamlessly woven into the fabric of Askanse’s earthy yet futuristic productions. “Contemplate” is the most dance-informed song here, but the beat is a muted shuffle rather than upfront banging. “To Find” edges closer to footwork or drum’n’bass, but feels much too expansive to be defined as anything. And then there’s the opening and closing takes of “Open”, which is both empowering and mind-expanding. Recently interviewed for Bandcamp, she said she’s working on her own album as well as the next Shigeto record, which is amazing news on both accounts.

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