JOHN CARROLL KIRBY: TRAVEL

October 26th, 2017 | Album reviews

JOHN CARROLL KIRBY
Travel
Outside Insight

Travel is just that: moving, engaging, self-reflective. It’s both diary and record, a sonic travelogue by L.A. keyboardist/composer/producer John Carroll Kirby. You may not know Kirby by name, but you’ve heard him with Solange, Blood Orange, Connan Mockasin, Raphael Saadiq, and more. Kirby’s is a distinct sort of retro futurism, lush, nostalgic tones inspired in part by legendary synthesists like Haruomi Hosono. So much of Travel is transportive, songs designed to evoke times, places, and memories—even ones you’ve never experienced. “Poroy Station” is steamy and subtle, a funky synth lead bouncing atop the quiet, rhythmic pulse of a train barreling straight toward sunset. “Essaouira,” we’re told, is the sound of water lapping at the shores of the Moroccan city of the same name. But it’s also otherworldly—synth-driven exotica that sounds like library music from some other hazy, fleeting reality. “Alexia” is a stunner, with swirling, fluid synths that buoy dreamy, barely-there vocals until it all erupts into a New Age boogie. There are moments of quiet elegance and others of overblown exotica, but this is a wonderful transformative record that must be taken whole. To do anything less would be to abandon your own journey.

—Miles Clements

JOHN CARROLL KIRBY’S TRAVEL IS OUT FRI., OCT. 27, ON OUTSIDE INSIGHT.