Krovi | W i t n e s s (Sleep on Dreams)

At times, it’s not entirely clear if he’s actually singing something lyrical or just abstractly using his voice for effect.

In earlier reviews, I’ve alluded to the fact that Nashville is home to quite an eclectic scene of music. Country, pop, and indie rock aside, there’s also a present noise, experimental, and electronic music scene. Here to add to the mix of eccentric music from the underground of Music City USA is Krovi.

On debut album W i t n e s s, Krovi presents 12 chilling, dark-wave songs infused with moments of noise and witch house. Front man James Farmer, whose vocals are reminiscent of the Cure’s Robert Smith, gladly leads listeners into a dreamy abstract haze. While the composition arrangement overall is, for the most part, on the slow end of things, Krovi is able to keep things different throughout the collection, and to add more than enough interesting elements in every song so the listener can easily engage without getting bored.

This is, of course, due to the band’s savvy ability to soundscape in subtle ways. While it would be easy to present giant abstract noises for this purpose, a lá Nine Inch Nails, Krovi takes a much subtler approach at soundscaping in small and quiet ways. This technique, in turn, demands the listener’s active engagement to catch the finer details of what’s going on. At first it may not seem like much, but repeated listens reveal new details and intricacies. It should come as no surprise, then, that some of the best moments on W i t n e s s are the instrumental jams and interludes, such as “New Pass for J” and the outro of “Reveal Yr Skull.”

However, Farmer’s vocal abilities shouldn’t be discounted, either; they’re part of the soundscaping, as well. At times, on songs such as “Resolvist” and “On Yr Mind,” it’s not entirely clear if he’s actually singing something lyrical or just abstractly using his voice for effect. Other times, his vocals are just heavily effected and atmospheric, but it works well to create the gothic, dreamy atmosphere and aesthetic. On stellar track “Pearls,” Farmer manipulates his voice near the end to where the listener’s no longer sure if those are vocals or synthesizers.

Despite all the atmospheric elements of W i t n e s s, that’s not to say there aren’t moments of pop accessibility. “A Struggle in Pleasure” and “Gabriel” could easily be staples at goth nights. Meanwhile the beautiful “On Yr Mind” feels a little reminiscent of the ’80s and some of Prince’s work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as the band cites Prince as a major influence. Regardless, if you should choose to enter the dark wave world of Krovi, be prepared for a gorgeous, otherworldly ambience ahead. A | Michael Cheng

Key tracks: “Gossamrr,” “Flexibal,” “Attritia,” “On Yr Mind”

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