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Kuedo – Severant review

Amid an ever-swelling tide of praise and adulation well ahead of its release, Severant comes loaded with all kinds of expectations and curiosities to be answered. While this never does the music itself any favours, what is quite astounding is that within the two short minutes that host the first track, those expectations dissipate as effortlessly as they arrived.

Opener “Visioning Shared Tomorrows” is nothing if not celebratory, as a synthesiser fanfare rings out with all the mist and wonder that the unknown future may or may not hold. It sounds like a vague way to interpret the emotion held within a track, but it neatly sets the tone for where Severant will be heading over its duration; an opening theme if you will.

There’s no escaping the echoes of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream all over the tracks, because the synthesisers that hold centre stage at all times come straight from that school of laconic and melancholic warbles. However sources of inspiration fade to insignificance against the kind of heartfelt composition that has gone into Severant. “Whisper Fate” is achingly beautiful in its delicacy and progression, while “Scissors” transcends that point even more archly by re-employing the hook from Carly Simon’s heartbreak classic “Why?”

While the synths may be the stars of the shows, the beats are no slackers either. The drum machine hits are crisp and clean, but intricately arranged to add their own emotional weight where required. In one instance you may have a lean and simple half-step rhythm which then erupts in a manic flurry of hat triggering as on “Truth Flood”. Rather than serving any notion of groove, here percussion and rhythm are the tools with which Kuedo sculpts his grand story.

The sound sources remain consistent throughout, and in doing so create a cohesive feel to the album (an end Kuedo was definitely aiming for, as revealed in his interview with Juno Plus). Likewise, the generally short length of the tracks adds to the overall feel of a filmless score, as different incidentals of mood and feeling meld into one whole.

Oli Warwick