Lost in Kiev – Persona
I would definitely say that Lost in Kiev is a special band to me. The French quartet’s 2016 release “Nuit Noire” is a post rock masterpiece. The band’s signature style of presenting “cinematic” experiences in music is captivating. Especially because it’s done so well. The clever use of self-written voice lines to present these stories is a nice touch, even though it’s far from the first time this has been done in post rock. This continues in their new album, “Persona”.
“Persona” presents a dystopian future where artificial intelligence is the norm. It’s the band’s take on the human element behind it; the featured characters’ emotional catharsis in this fictional futuristic world. The sound has also shifted a little bit from before. Where “Nuit Noire” was heavier with a sort of dark feeling to it, “Persona” feels more like traditional post rock with some 70-80s style synth. When I hear the synth sound, sometimes it takes me back to Vangelis’ (electronica pioneer, perhaps most known for the Blade Runner soundtrack) work, and for some people that’s going to be great. But to me, it falls a little flat.
Lost in Kiev – Persona (click here if the video above does not play)
First up is the title track. The intro slowly builds up with a synth part that gives that Vangelis vibe. But throughout the song, especially from the 2 minute and onwards, I constantly harbor a feeling of familiarity. Like part of what was so intriguing and special to me about Lost in Kiev’s previous work is stripped away, and this sounds more like a one-in-the-crowd post rock style. That said, it’s still solid post rock, and a voice sample at the end that hints at the album’s theme.
Second track ‘Lifelooper’ starts with a bang. Like the previous one, this one contains about 50-50 post rock and synthwave, with the latter part even providing an appropriate beat. To me, it turns out a little strange. It feels like two different styles in a song that aren’t really combined, just one part this, and one part that. And while the post rock part is still solid, this sort of divide comes off as strange to me. The music feels less interesting.
‘The Incomplete’ sounds better in that regard. Here, the two styles seem more combined, which makes the song stand out more. But somehow, even this track feels like it’s missing the extra ‘oomph.’ It still feels a bit forgettable, and while listening to the whole album, I caught myself not really feeling interested in the first few songs and losing focus. Track 4, ‘XM3216,’ is much the same.
‘Pygmalion’ is the shortest track of the album with its 2:10. With a nice, electronic ambient backdrop, it features a voice sample that tells a part of the story of how this dystopia came to be. The ambient feeling is nice and feels, in a way, serene and relaxing.
Where the first half of the album didn’t really do much for me, the second half steps in and lifts the overall impression. ‘Mindfiles’ starts off with a bass riff that serves as the mainline of the song. Like the last one, this song also has a voice sample telling a story of how things are in this fictional future. It finishes off with a heavier part that brings back the feelings of why Lost in Kiev are one of my absolute favourite post rock bands. ‘Psyche’ is another really solid post rock track where the synth parts do not feel out of place, and brings out the heaviness that I so enjoy about the band. It sounds like the band I know from “Nuit Noire” making an album in a different setting, and I like it!
‘Thumos’ falls a little back to the style of ‘The Incomplete.’ A song where post rock and electronica is combined but still doesn’t really stand out. I guess that’s just not really my thing? Or maybe it can be, because the final track ‘Mecasocialis’ is a good finale. It’s still very much post rock and electronic ambient in unison, but the melodies are much more interesting this time!
So to summarize, while the album does have its standout moments, as a whole it misses the mark for me. I always appreciate bands thinking outside the box and trying to build upon their sound to create something fresh, but the great moments are few and far between. However, the great moments are great, and Lost in Kiev’s talent still shines through. It is by no means a bad album with regards to musical craftsmanship. The story they tell through the music and the cinematic way of doing so is still good, and the atmosphere in the music accompanies it well. “Persona” is still a standout album in its own way, and will be fantastic to some people, I’m sure. I’m just not in that crowd.
- The Incomplete