December 12, 2018

Artist Radar: Egosphere, Kiro

Seismic warning sirens are blaring in LV Towers as Kiro treats us to an album-length, genre-spanning statement of intent with Egosphere...

By: SierraOskar

Back in August, we shared our more than favourable opinion on Corruptorator, a powerful techno monster unleashed by LV favourite Kiro. Then, in November, Kiro showed us how different he could get, closing out Emercive’s excellent Converge Vol. 2 compilation with the relaxed, melodic Reflection. Now, just in time for Christmas, Kiro treats us with Egosphere, an LP that spans the divide between these two tracks — and some other things besides.

NB: Egosphere is scheduled to drop on 14 December, so we’ll be updating the article once it’s available to link to :)

Album opener Introsphere drifts into earshot with a bubbling arpeggio, that gradually intertwines with twinkling plucks before a gritty, neon-infused bass revs the engine and eases us away down the moodily-lit “Ryan Gosling Drive”. While Egosphere takes us to many different places through its 43-minute runtime, it retains the vibrant and cinematic atmosphere of its opening track.

If Introsphere pulses with a similar feel to previous Emercive release Reflection, second track — the bumping Phantasmagoria — establishes a recurring “one downbeat-one upbeat” pattern to the tracklist that lasts throughout. With its stacks of chords, intricate sound design and well executed haunted house vibe, Phantasmagoria is the most Foxhunt track on the record, slapping us with a slice of head-nodding complextro that spoils us with lasting melodies and perhaps the only time I have both wanted and received a harpsichord solo.

After the creepy but catchy ambience of Phantasmagoria, Kiro spins the wheel and throws us in yet another new direction with the gorgeous Butterfly. Layering carefully textured pads and melodic flourishes upon a hefty kick and warm bass foundation, Kiro conjures the experience of chasing a butterfly — net in hand — through a technicolour forest… only to see it float away into the trees, out of reach. While the production is spot-on throughout the album, Butterfly is a definite high-point with a crisp, well-balanced sound that foregrounds the melody without losing any of the groove.

Without a moment’s rest, another stylistic about-face sees us flung into the outer reaches on the torrent of juicy, whip-crack arpeggios that herald the start of Hypernova. The synths build to a frantic crescendo before giving way to empty space punctuated only by a pounding kick that sets the pace for the remainder of the track. Effortlessly balancing the mechanoid thrust of its percussion with supple and euphoric trance-style synths, Hypernova nails the headrushing joy that characterises some of Kiro’s best work.

After such a heady high, Kiro (wisely) pulls the rug out from under us with the scratchy atmospherics of Mechanism. With no discernible rhythm or melody, this experimental piece gives us a chance to draw breath and take stock of the varied scenes we have just witnessed — and prepare ourselves, for the Corruptorator awaits… I won’t repeat my words about this track, suffice it to say that Corruptorator remains an excellent listen and looming over us, after the brief respite of Mechanism, its impact is only increased.

Penultimate track Ultrasaur would seem up-tempo in many other contexts, but it comes over somewhat laidback after the face-kicking intensity of Corruptorator! Kiro teases us with a lingering intro that builds into a false-drop before turning up the heat again with tweaking risers and mau5-organ chords, finally tossing us into a soulful groove that hammers home the tracks heroic chord progression. The switch to half-time in the second drop gives the rich melodic elements space to be appreciated until a filter sweep washes them away, leaving only gentle piano chords to close.

And so, after much excitement, we find ourselves deposited in bleak, windy Outrosphere. With slow, controlled movements the elements of the track haul themselves out of the fog and into view. A vintage, filtered bass gives the first hint of melody, as an airy vocal sample floats over the top and percussive elements gather and lurch towards a ghostly breakdown. Kiro only keeps us waiting for a moment before the hooks return and carry us to the end of our journey with a purposeful stride.

Egosphere is an album that will capture listeners on both an individual and collective level. While each piece of music is well crafted in isolation, the tracklist works even better as a continuous narrative experience that covers a lot of ground, without getting bogged down in genre. To wrap up, I highly recommend this album — it stands both as a credit to the hard work of a talented creator and yet more evidence that we should be excited to see where he takes us next…

I caught up with Kiro to learn more about the process behind the creation of the album and what else we should expect from him soon.

SO: Hi Kiro - thanks for taking the time to talk to me and congrats on ‘Egosphere’, it a fantastic listen.

My overall impression of the album is that it does a great job of “world building”, starting with the mysterious cover art. How did the cover art come about and are you willing to say anything about what it represents?

Kiro: The art kind of represents the name, Egosphere meaning a personal bubble and the sphere in the art is inspired by that, but honestly the name is literally just a jab at the EDM bedroom producer community. Everyone is trapped in their own “egosphere” and anyone who doesn’t conform to it, they avoid talking to. Petty of me but idgaf.

SO: There’s a lot of variety in the tracks, covering various dimensions of your sound. Were they all produced in 2018, or was ‘Egosphere’ in progress before that?

Kiro: ‘Egosphere’ went from concept to complete entirely in 2018. I had planned to do a Kiro album for a while but not until after another Foxhunt album. That’s changed obviously, but yeah, everything was made in 2018.

SO: With the flow of the tracks, there’s a definite sense of alternating been softer and harder sounds to my ear. Do you agree and if so was that an intentional sequencing choice?

Kiro: I do hear it, but was it intentional? No. I just tried to pick which tracks flow together well.

SO: As I mentioned earlier, despite the sonic variety, the album does a great job of making me feel like I’m on a consistent journey in a different world. How planned out was the album, versus having a set of tracks that felt like they fit together?

Kiro: I knew where I wanted 2 of the tracks to go (‘Introsphere’/ ‘Outrosphere’), but for everything else I didn’t produce them in a set order, just tried to place them so they didn’t feel out of place with the track before and after.

SO: How much has the process of working on Project Sanctuary influenced what you’re trying to do with this album? Tracks like ‘Butterfly’ or ‘Ultrasaur’ felt to me like they could totally exist in that type of context.

Kiro: It’s less the process influenced me and more just my style has evolved beyond mainly electro house, and this is something I’ve been developing since last year’s ‘Music for Rainy Days’ EP. There’s definitely going to still be sprinkles of electro though.

SO: ‘Mechanism’ is a very interesting middle-point of the album, set between two high-energy tracks (‘Hypernova’ and ‘Corruptorator’). What did that grow out of and how did you approach it compared to the more “standard” track structures? Were you trying to achieve anything structurally with placing it in the middle, or it just felt right?

Kiro: ‘Mechanism’ was a very interesting one to produce in the fact that it doesn’t really have a BPM or a key signature. It was mainly produced using 3 or 4 samples, one being a broken clock, one being soap suds popping, one being coins dropping and another being a bowl of jelly being blown into by a tube. All of these were then processed using some really interesting VSTs (Grmtools) and placed together to make this soundscape of a track. It just felt like a good midpoint for the album.

SO: Moving onto the production side. I know we’ve spoken before about your love of the Novation Peak :) … did that feature as heavily as I’m assuming? What other key tools did you draw on for this?

Kiro: Absolutely featured heavily. ‘Corruptorator’ was made entirely with that synth, as was a good chunk of ‘Butterfly’. Not that my other toys didn’t get a shine either, a lot of the acidy sounding synths came from my Bass Station 2 (i.e. ‘Hypernova’) and glitchier ones from my Monologue (which Aphex Twin helped design).

SO: Overall, what (whether a track, a piece of sound design or production) are you proudest of about the album?

Kiro: ‘Butterfly’ for sure. ‘Phantasmagoria’ is probably the most energetic track on the album but it’s a very safe track for me, and ‘Butterfly’ is something very different for me that I feel turned out really well.

SO: Now ‘Egosphere’ is out there, what’s next for Kiro? Are you planning to play out live as Kiro? Can we expect more releases soon?

Kiro: Definitely gonna be more releases on their way, and as for playing live as Kiro, I feel like I need to increase my library of tracks first and there’s a few more pieces of gear I want to pick up before I can fully realise what I want a Kiro set to be.

SO: You always have plenty in the works. Would you like to give us an update on any of the other things you’ve got on the way?

Kiro: Of course. This is very early in the planning stages and might not go anywhere, but me and Moki are going to be making another live album, this time with wholly original tracks with the album title of ‘Twin Peaks’. You can speculate all you want on what that means ;)

SO: Thanks again for your time. Any closing remarks?

Kiro: rip wanza7 on youtube.

Well, there you have it. We can look forward to that Foxhunt x Moki x Angelo Badalamenti live mashup in 2019… Happy listening and be sure to check out Kiro’s LV artist page for his social links, releases and related articles.