For the uninitiated, Lifetime holds a sardonic surprise. Following the bizarre introduction with the title track, Klein unfolds “Claim It”, flirting vividly with the repetitive prowess of mainstream electronic music in intoxicating fashion. The progression steadily evolves, novel sounds and elements coming to the front, but there is always something that does not feel quite right. The vocal delivery is a constant reminder of Klein’s unusual perspective, ranging from distant echoes to coughing induced moans and processed, seemingly pitch-shifted, tailored, and arranged after cut-up writing traditions, instances. It is then that the realization settles in as Klein is slowly pulling the curtain to reveal all the majesty and bleakness of Lifetime.
Taking a retrospective of Klein’s journey, Lifetime as a chapter comes as no surprise. The London-based artist has been tampering with the core aesthetics of not only electronic music, but also R&B as her debut record Only has shown. Klein has constantly been digging deeper over the years. It’s a process that doesn’t aim so much in the deconstruction of electronic themes, but to find her unique voice. Her experimental range is wide, and as Klein slowly detached from the soul, funk, and R&B trajectory, she has embraced the glory of musique concrete, the schizoid nature of glitch, and the majesty of sonic collage. It is through these methods that Klein now gives breathes life to her sonic vision.
Ambient touches are prevalent in Lifetime at times resulting in a soothing and intimate rendition, as “Listen and See as They Take” lets on. In these minimal movements, the record settles to its most delicate form, but that’s not the only manner in which Klein employs atmospherics. On the other end of the spectrum, “We Are Almost There” offers an emotionally drenched rendition. The vocal delivery is haunting, and the background awakened by the synths arrives with an eerie mystique. And it is at that point that the uncanny ability of Klein to move between genres and ideas while retaining the same emotional flavor shines. “Never Will I Disobey” retains this unstable perspective, fear of constant volatility that is never fulfilled. Still, it is something that is achieved through sonic collage methods instead of ambient teachings.
The ability to implement the cut-up techniques doesn’t come only from field recordings, and Klein masterfully processes musical signals to achieve the same result. “Silent” sees drum parts being manipulated to that end, setting an unhinged, verging on deranged break from a moment of fragile serenity. And this is where Klein unfolds a further intricate layer, highlighted by this demented persona.
Closing track “Protect My Blood” is the perfect example of this disturbing side of Lifetime, with an accordion-like synth maniacally echoing through the dissonant corridors of Klein’s mind. It is a method that comes hand in hand with the busier and chaotic “For What Worth”, featuring the great Matana Roberts. Much like Roberts, Klein is free of structures, settings and lets ideas flow in a fashion following a stream of consciousness narrative. It’s this underlying theme that gives Lifetime its free and unfiltered form, shining a light into the creative mind of one of the most promising artists of today.