Kevin Drew Wrings Boundless Possibilities Out of a Beatmaking App on 'Influences'

Kevin Drew Wrings Boundless Possibilities Out of a Beatmaking App on 'Influences'
7
It's surprising to learn that Broken Social Scene centrepiece Kevin Drew made his new solo album, Influences, with a beat-making phone app. That's because these eight instrumental tracks — released under the name K.D.A.P., or Kevin Drew a Picture) pulse, hum and chime with enough warmth and depth to rival plenty of slicker big studio productions. 

Take opener "The Slinfold Loop." Named after the British forest where the Canadian musician spent much of the pandemic, it begins with staccato bursts that build into a dancefloor Morse code, spelling out nothing less than a good time. There's the sizzling riff and unhurried percussion that open "Wilner's Parade," along with the transistor-on-the-fritz first half of "Almost Victory (Keep End Going)." Both showcase Drew's penchant for offbeat rhythms and otherworldly sonics. They also prove just how far a seemingly simple beatmaking app — the aptly named Endlesss — can be pushed.
 
Another highlight, "You and Me and Them," begins with droning notes that, like a July sunshower's first drops, shimmer before gently landing. A number of intricate textures bloom and fade by the track's end, from slapping percussion and oscillating hums to assuredly dramatic chimes. "Dooms Dive," meanwhile, begins with a darker tone driven by a clanging refrain that is overtaken mid-way by a mellower echoing pulse, which then gives way to sunny chirps. And "Shadow Rescues" starts with a percolating riff that becomes entangled with both a popped bubble wrap percussion loop and a haunted groan that grows sharper as it lingers on, before suddenly ceasing. All of that occurs within, impressively enough, the song's first minute. 

Though not as accessible or anthemic fellow aughts indie rocker Dan Boeckner's electronica explorations with current outfit Operators, nor poised to have Drew overtake Caribou at the forefront of Canadian avant-garde electronica, Influences nevertheless rewards repeated listens precisely because of its slow burn subtlety. And if an early '80s auteur needed to soundtrack their endearingly nuanced sci-fi flick, Influences would certainly fit the bill. Regardless, Drew will make you pine for such impossibilities with the open-hearted hopeful tones and unpredictable rhythmic twists he wrings out of that DIY app for this promising solo album. Just imagine what he could pull off with a more elaborate electronica setup. (Arts & Crafts)