Music

K. Leimer Is Concerned About Humanity's Growing Crises on 'Irrational Overcast'

Photo: Jeff Korwin

Experimental, electronic artist K. Leimer binds the music on Irrational Overcast to the central themes to create something that attempts to articulate the dangers that threaten societal equilibrium today.

Irrational Overcast
K. Leimer

First Terrace

5 July 2019

K. Leimer is an experimental, electronic artist who produced a series of groundbreaking releases during the mid- to late '70s and '80s. After the success of his 2016 12-inch for, First Terrace, he returns for his first full-length release on the independent label.

Irrational Overcast finds a deeply concerned Leimer troubled by the growing crisis that, he believes, threatens to envelop humanity. For him, civil society is becoming ever more divided as people turn away from facts, favoring partisanship, and an unwavering belief in ignorant, scaremongering idealogues, who fuel fear and hate. What's more, we live in an increasingly fractured world at a time when nature and the environment desperately need a united effort to combat environmental catastrophe.

Understandably, the music on the album is sobering and reflective with Leimer constructing sunless, often desolate, lo-fi sonic backdrops, that seem to subsume everything before it gradually. Long droning passages of ambient sounds are often ruptured by distortion, warped electronics, and fragments of noise.

Opener "Uncertain Instruction" articulates humanity's inability to make mutually beneficial decisions, instead defaulting to vapid, ultimately self-serving, platitudes. With fragmented electronics seeping into glitchy, snatched vocal loops that struggle to settle, Keimer creates a wavering, disconsolate backing, which is understandable considering the theme. That said, there is comfort to be found in the stirring piano notes that seem to tap directly into the soul.

The expertly paced "Corrosive Ardor" finds the drone of dragging synths interrupted by pulses of noise. Gradually, the track swells in volume and grows in urgency before relaxing once more, like being suddenly caught in a snowstorm that calms to a light shower. The more nebulous "Weather on the Fen" envelopes everything in a slow-moving sonic mist that gradually gets thicker as it gently evolves, taking on new forms until settling on a denser, more rounded shape.

On "Lament to the Open Air" soft, piano notes gently dilate the air around them. As the synths expand and begin to quiver, a distant voice recording can be heard, like a looped motivational tape playing in another room. "Along the Soluble Shore" opens with a radio scrolling through the dials before droning notes and synths that evolve like a changing landscape over time. As you would expect, Leimer skillfully explores shape, depth, and texture as sounds metamorphosis seemingly occupying a no man's land where the abstract and the tangible collide.

The windswept, foggy electronics that form the chilly background for "Severity Limit" are lightly punctured by snippets of instrumentation that peak out like figures in the mist before retreating once more. It's a subtle piece that gradually evolves and reforms like a musical epoch.

"Song for the State" continues in the same vein but with any trace of hope having evaporated. It's an exhausted, despondent finale as if he has finally tired of actively trying to find the hope and optimism in the world even during the bleakest of times. The rumbling, droning notes give it a darkly oppressive air with only occasional piano notes providing the barest of illumination.

Leimer is perfectly aware of the limitations of music, especially experimental electronic music, to satisfactorily express complex ideas about authoritarianism, greed, and environmental decline. However, on Irrational Overcast he successfully binds the music to the central themes to create something, that at least attempts to articulate the dangers that threaten societal equilibrium today. It is an often solemn but beautifully constructed album that shows an innovative, constantly inventive artist roused to communicate his thoughts in the best way he can.

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