Kaytranada releases everything you’d expect, while leaving desire for more

courtesy of indiespace.com
courtesy of indiespace.com

Classifying Kaytranada under any genre does the Montreal-based producer and DJ a disservice. His chops are versatile, ranging from chillwave and deep house to R-and-B and funk, yet there prevails a distinct sound with his synths and melodies that are unique to him.

After gaining popularity during 2013 via his SoundCloud tracks such as “AT ALL” and remixes of popular EDM hits such as Flume’s “Holdin’ On,” Kaytranada has released his long-awaited debut studio album “99.9%.” While the album is a solid beginning for the producer, showcasing his diverse musical knowledge in an entertaining 59 minutes, it does suffer from some inconsistencies, with a couple of tracks playing a little bit too close to the producer’s signature sound.

“TRACK UNO” kicks off the album with a jazz-inspired piano riff, right before the house beat kicks in, culminating in Kaytranada’s signature beat switch toward the four-minute mark. A catchy bass line then follows, before the beat switches yet again to a more deep house feel. These elements display the producer’s versatility with multiple genres, before the track goes into “BUS RIDE,” a spacious two-minute interlude featuring a soft piano melody.

On “GOT IT GOOD,” featuring Craig David, Kaytranada delivers a classic ‘90s R-and-B-inspired production, as David croons over the spacious electronic beats. This R-and-B motif becomes more modern in “TOGETHER” featuring AlunaGeorge and GoldLink, which has a similar sound to Estelle’s 2009 hit “American Boy,” featuring Kanye West.

Vic Mensa delivers some aggressive bars on “DRIVE ME CRAZY,” which contrast perfectly with Kaytranada’s smooth hip-hop and blues-inspired production. A long-awaited collab with fellow Canadian artists BADBADNOTGOOD occurs on “WEIGHT OFF,” showcasing the band’s signature brooding bass line and polyrhythmic drumming, which are followed by Kaytranada’s wavy synths.

Next is the R-and-B and ‘90s-house blended “ONE TOO MANY,” featuring Phonte, that is followed by the jazz-inspired “DESPITE THE WEATHER,” concluding with a comical skit before the album’s lead single, “GLOWED UP.” While I was originally unimpressed with this Anderson .Paak collab when it was released earlier this year, the song fits well on the album as Kaytranada’s creepy synths and beat changes showcase another aspect of the producer’s music.

The funky “BREAKDANCE LESSON N.1” follows, featuring classic 1970s-era guitar vibes and bass lines in between periods of slow spacious rhythms. Syd tha Kyd joins Kaytranada once again on ”YOU’RE THE ONE,” which serves as an uptempo sequel to their earlier collaboration “GIRL,” on the Internet’s latest project. Relatively obscure Toronto singer River Tiber lays down some vocals on the next track “VIVID DREAMS,” for a calm, albeit forgettable track on the album.

This album then goes into the strongest track on the album “LITE SPOTS,” which reworks Brazilian singer Gal Costa’s 1973 track, “Pontos De Luz,” into an addictive dance club anthem. Unfortunately “LEAVE ME ALONE,” returns to an all-too familiar house form, before the album concludes with “BULLETS,” a solid, yet safe conclusion for the album.

While “99.9%” does a great job at showcasing who Kaytranada is as a producer, some tracks are ultimately forgettable, as they don’t push any major boundaries beyond his sound. Every drop flows in perfectly and every feature compliments each track nicely; however some tracks failed to engage me as a listener.

Even with these inconsistencies, Kaytranada fans will enjoy this record as this album encapsulates his music to this point perfectly: calm, yet upbeat, and spacious yet meticulously calculated. For those who have yet to listen to Kaytranada this album serves as a perfect introduction and is a must for fans of deep-house, chill hop and jazz-influenced electronic music. Despite operating at “99.9%,” many tracks such as “LITE SPOTS,” and “TRACK UNO,” are over 100.

Rating: 4/5

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