Klara – Devotion to light
(Circular Limited, 2022-02-26)
It’s been a while since Klara is in the game as a well-inspired DJ, but we didn’t guess that she would become so great as a techno producer. Sure, she has a very deep, esoteric connection with spirituality, as mentioned in our review of her last album. But “spiritual people” don’t necessarily make good musicians, even if, admittedly, such awareness is an asset for the specific atmospheric techno aesthetic.
Our hypothesis is that she has always been a musician, in her soul, heart and guts, and that she just needed to familiarise herself with the production tools to unleash the artistic channel. Firstly, she has some psytrance in her blood, inherited from her father, a well-respected sound engineer among other roles. Secondly, it is said that in early childhood, she was singing before even talking; her voice was her first musical instrument, which she trained in a classical music school for six years.
Both psytrance and classical music merged together in a very long mental process to finally provoke “the call for techno” when she got twenty years of age. She became a DJ under the moniker “Klara Vedis”, then split the name a few years later into “Klara” for her techno productions and “Vedis” for her ambient work. In parallel, she pushed her technical learning to the point of opening her own mastering service, called Eos Mastering, and recently, she also created the project “Clairvoyant” to reconnect with her first love, the psytrance.
Even though she started producing only two years after her first experiences behind the decks, we didn’t notice it immediately: her first productions were diffused into live acts, such as in her “Memoir page” for Hypnus. Then, her 2021 official releases “Akasha” and “Enhalon” had the effect of the famous 1980 Maxell advertisement on us: like the “blown away guy” on his chair, the releases restyled our shaggy hair…
Rare are the artists who give us the sensation that “it’s too good to be true”: Klara, Valentino Mora, Wu Wa We, Marco Shuttle, Feral, Laima Adelaide… The two latter producers have not been highlighted randomly, having both participated to Klara’s EP… The release feels like the reunion of high caste shamans, and it’s with this risky metaphor that we install the scenery for “Devotion to light”.
The trippy effect is almost instant when hitting play on the opening track. There is a link to make with Donato Dozzy’s definition of hypnotic techno, which he sees as “a language in which we feel comfortable”, the Italian stalwart being also a son of the chill-out culture. For us, Klara creates the hypnosis in two ways, firstly with a subtle spatial game between the percussions, tainted of tribalism, and the drone, lying down “comfortably” in the background, and secondly through her evasive chants. It’s been a long time that using vocals as an “instrumental” layer in techno has been proven to be possibly hypnotic, as demonstrated in the masterpiece “Parola“. Shall we dare to say that Klara’s voice is somewhat evocative of the melancholic mermaids from Greek mythology, whose hypnotism caused some tragedies among the intrepid maritime explorers? While being less dangerous, she’s at least accustomed to the practice, thinking of a nice jam session that she improvised in the 2018 edition of Ozora, with Victor Marinov, Marcus Henriksson, Kalumet and Brando Lupi. There could have been worst references…
In her circle of great artists, Klara is also connected with Kontinum, who she invited lately for a mythic mix on Amok Radio. The German gentleman was also a DJ before becoming a producer. He instantly showed an obvious talent to design aerial drones on top of efficient drums. He did a fantastic job in his remix, by creating a dynamic version of the original track, with great amplitude and a nice rework on the pads, beautiful and melodious.
With the third track, “Devotion to light”, the listener is plunged into Klara’s deep spiritual world. Her interest for the mantras is translated by the shamanic chants, while her deep connection to nature can be sensed through the field recordings and the liquid effects. It is notorious that Klara is also very interested in Buddhist traditions and practices. For instance, she’s fascinated by the Sand mandala, a Tibetan art form consisting of “creating and destructing mandalas made from coloured sand”, and symbolising “the transitory nature of material life” (thank you Wikipedia). Not sure that she had this in mind when she created the track, but we felt the realisation of a transition, both technically and in the storytelling. The vibe is globally quiet on the surface, while the depth is teeming with life, represented by the complex percussions. Around three minutes comes a break which feels like a reset and a restart of the same movement, with the chants fading out before and fading in after, as if the character depicted in the track was unable to go from one state to another, despite some attempts. It echoes the melancholic voice of the first track.
Laima Adelaide’s talent is also incredible, and what she made out of the original version is flawless. She also has a background in the classical music world, having studied it at the University. Added to her natural sensitivity, she’s capable to design very complex structures, raising her productions in cutting-edge contemporary art, at the level of the grand artists who leave an indelible imprint on the culture.
So in the end, yes, “Devotion to light” is “too good to be true”: it would not take a lot of mental adjustment to imagine the art form in a sonic museum, made to be contemplated, tasted. Klara, Kontinum and Laima Adelaide, along with the involved sound engineers in the mastering, have all done amazing work, and somehow contribute to making the mad world better, at least during the minutes of listening.
WRITING BY: CEDRIC FINKBEINER | 28 FEBRUARY 2022