I had the pleasure of meeting Seb and Natasha out of Kaya Project for the first time over new year’s, and what thoroughly nice people they are. Sadly, my blood/alcohol ratio was edging into the area known as “stop it”, a result of performing the same card trick to the entire party in exchange for a swig of whatever alcohol they happened to be carrying, and I recall telling Kaya Project that they were both fatter than I had imagined them to be.
I apologise unreservedly.
Desert Phase is, as you might well expect, bloody fantastic. Kaya Project have evolved their sound into a brave, confident, swagger that couples musical non-shitness with a tender admiration and sense of worldwide wonder-lust.
Indeed, the album’s blurb claims that the music here is inspired by “windswept” experiences through three deserts (the Sonoran, the Thar and the Northern Sahara for anyone with an atlas handy) and while this sounds like a recipe for orientalism-tinged cringeworthy musical disater, it carries well here. Live instruments and guest musicians fuse wonderfully with effortless, unfolding electronic backdrops.
One simply cannot avoid being picked up and magnetised by this release. The cynic may question whetherthe album is best stored alongside other downtempo music, or among The Rough Guide To Desert Musi but this shows how far we’ve come. We’re in Interchill’s 13th year as a label, and instead of dealing with the onset of puberty by being moody and refusing to wash, they’re evolving into one of the most mature, focused, varied and lovable labels in the world.
My personal favourite track on Desert Phase is Eye Of The Storm. It’s got one hell of a hook to it, and it somehow draws evergy from the very fabric of the universe and throws down into an organic drum n’ bass grinfest before retreating into a final section that is the sound of Shpongle being eaten for breakfast and spat out on the kitchen floor.
This album is, simply put, fucking brilliant. Sometimes it sounds like the soundtrack to a road movie, sometimes it sounds like deep delta blues through an acid ear-trumpet, and sometimes it sounds like something the Grateful Dead might have wandered into as a side-project had Garcia made it another 15 years.
Many will like more chillum treacle in their chillout but for anyone with a hankering for something different to, and more organic than, the swathes of ‘psybient’ tosh out there, Desert Phase rewards the listener with warmth, longevity and an energy that could only possibly ever come from two people deeply in love with the world, with music, and with each other. Tops.