New for me
The buzzing guitars and the drum machine that opens up The Most Beautiful Thing on "Cipher Key", especially once you add Chaeyeong's angry vocals, immediately brings to mind a crossing of industrial electronica and industrial rock and it wouldn't be wrong to suggest that part of The Most Beautiful Thing is underlined by the kind of sounds that you can hear in groups like The Prodigy, Gravity Kills or Lords of Acid. However, the short EP ventures into other genres like ambient, drifting closer to what you might hear from Björk in a blend that actually makes for a coherent listening experience.
Despite their self-professed label of making experimental music, Kafka's sound is grounded in electronica, industrial, rock, and a light brushing of pop. "Cipher Key" is an appropriately noisy intro that channels a sense of hurt into anger that helps set up the overall tone of the album, which sits at the border of disillusionment, hurt, and depression. The distinct switch to a more pop-touched electronica on the following title track, with Chaeyeong affecting a child-like tone and innocence in the lyrics helps create a contrast, while the continued use of buzzing guitars and drum machine keeps the track a meaningful progression from its predecessor.
The duo then drop into a spacey ambient stream on "Silence" with Chaeyeong moving to a more breathy Björk-like expression, keeping the sense of hurt among the thumping and clacking of the production. "When You Wake Me Up" moves the duo back more towards industrial rock with some of the production being reminiscent of some of Nine Inch Nails' work, while Chaeyeong's vocals began to resemble a darker relative of I Yunjeong of Pipi Band and EE, with plenty of "f!@# you"'s thrown around. The following "Miss World (remix)" starts with more electronic bleeps and bloods before getting very aggressive with the guitars and Chaeyeong's vocals blurring into an instrument. Despite the aggression from the arrangement, the actual track demonstrates a progression away from the hurt of the past few tracks.
This leads well into the final track, "Fail to Love", which takes the duo into dream pop territory, with a spare arrangement and quiet vocals that go into whispering. A fittingly nearly resigned end to an EP that's arranged around a sense of hurt. And that focus on an overall theme really helps tie the different sounds on the EP together. However, while the listen is very well put together conceptually and has interesting ideas built into each of the songs, the songs mostly only work piecemeal and don't really manage to sustain as well throughout the individual listens. Furthermore, despite the changeovers from aggressive to soft and back again, the EP still ends up feeling a touch flat, possibly because the individual tracks feel more like aural canvases than pointed experiences.
All this makes The Most Beautiful Thing actually feel longer than its twenty-two minutes suggest and that might be because of the almost droning nature of each track in itself. The denseness of the production on the more aggressive tracks as well as the spareness of the more ambient ones leave the tracks often feeling murky and without a strong pop of dynamism. Still, the cohesiveness of the tracks together help give the EP enough glue to be a decent listening experience and those who have an appreciation for industrial leaning music might particularly find The Most Beautiful Thing interesting. On the other hand, Kafka doesn't have a particularly high dynamic ceiling or broad range of expression for The Most Beautiful Thing and the EP seems almost exhausting as a result. It's well put together, but a little short of inspiring. 6/10.
- Cipher Key
- The Most Beautiful Thing
- When You Wake Me Up
- Miss World (remix)
- Fail to Love