KYKO is here “to test the limits of pop”. Born from “a desire to move away from the confines of standard ‘singer-songwriter’ conventions and connotations…[he] looks to forge his own path in the world”.
He has “a feverish passion for experimenting, [and] has been crafting noise since reaching his teens”. Brought up amidst the sounds of Paul Simon and The Jam, Verrill “strives to combine his musical background with his passion for modern pop music and it’s ever evolving form”.
He’s been experimenting with different genres and people, including Ellie Goulding collaborator, Jonny Lattimer, and has already collectively amassed an impressive six million streams on Spotify.
Opener, “Horizon”, has sun kissed, moody guitar. “Wondering where my head got lost/Why can’t I be what I once was?” also adds to that feel of hazy, summer days whereby you might be lazing and a tad disorientated. The boom of the bass drum, with additional percussion locks you in, clicking emphatically yet sparse. The song grows emboldened before returning seamlessly from whence it came.
Just beyond midway is an interesting middle section, voice low and distorted. Definitely moody and pulsing. “I see beyond the horizon/Chasing the sun when it is rising” seems to imply, yes, the summer but being now in control of your faculties. No more sun induced disorientation. Recovering from sunstroke?
“Nature” fares with percussion evocative of, maybe, tropical climates. Come the chorus, it implores with seeming joy. Excellent dynamics sees dropping into complete silence before adjoining to the next verse. Somehow it seems like something you might hear in latter Genesis, whether Phil Collins or Ray Wilson.
A headlong “Dive In” rings in with what sounds a chorus of voices in a monastery, before a certain graveness rises. A certain drama. “I talk to myself ‘cos I’m a little undecided” suggesting said drama might be that of being torn inside.
The vocals climb with their soul bare before the truly inspired and inspiring chorus reaches new heights. Muted guitar shimmers with delicate melodies, teary eyed in their fragility. Vocal harmony adds extra punch and sheer gravity of emotion.
The end has come in “Drive”, which’s quite low key, yet hopeful. Guitar and bass weaving a curious, lightly bouncing groove. Seems like a funky, reggae swing, almost. Then the tribal drums hammer in. This is then exchanged for emphatic bass drum, the essence remaining roughly the same. Flourishes of guitar, a bit bolder this time, cut through distorted, overdriven low end.
Particular highlights are “Horizon”, “Drive In” and “Drive”. This an excellent return for a four track EP, three quarters of it to be precise. This spans all start, middle and end points of the project. Even looking at second last and last, “Drive In” and “Drive”, you notice there’s a theme. There’s a certain satisfaction in that they’ve been sequenced together.
Looking back at “Horizon”, you’re roused from your reverie. Maybe you’ve fallen asleep, and you wake up sunburned. “Wondering where my head got lost/Why can’t I be what I once was?” reinforces this confusion. Anyway, “I see beyond the horizon/Chasing the sun when it is rising” might indicate a reversal in the situation. Getting the better of the sun, in a way?
Then “Drive In” fares with choral sounds before becoming grave. “I talk to myself ‘cos I’m a little undecided” really highlights some sort of crisis, necessitating that grave note the song started upon. The chorus really is joyous, in a sense, yet the guitar conveys glass eyed sadness. Topping it off is vocal harmony with its emotional eloquence and beauty.
Closer, “Drive”, with guitar and bass weaving a curious, lightly bouncing groove, is striking in the curiosity it brings forth in the listener. A funky, reggae swing, almost. Hard to pin down but not difficult in the slightest to enjoy. Tribal drums are also a welcome addition to the soundscape. Overall, very thoughtfully put together.
KYKO straddles at least a few genre boundaries. Pumping rhythms are very primal, and appear now and again. However, he’s an ear for melodies within the general realms of popular music, too. This puts him head and shoulder above most in his approximate genre space. KYKO’s Wildlife EP can be purchased, here.
Words by Andrew Watson