Killa Kela’s third studio album is the best assault ears have ever been victim to. It’s assault for a reason, and that reason is the sheer noise and density of sound that hits like a brick to the head.
A highly regarded beatboxer, Kela has created a diverse album taking influence from hip-hop, grime, electro and dance (with Hadouken! on drum ‘n’ bass duties). Human League producer Martin Rushent, Bashy and Lateef are just a few of the big names Kela has roped in.
Opening track Built Like An Amplifier is an arms-flailing, body-shaking start. Produced by Does It Offend You, Yeah? front man James Rushent, the track retains DIOYY’s grittiness, just as Rushent’s other recent production project, The Prodigy‘s Invaders Must Die, did. Heavy, synthy and bassy, Built Like An Amplifier perfectly sets the tone of what’s to come.
Get A Rise shows Kela’s drum ‘n’ bass influences. Collaborating with Hadouken! has broadened the style of the album, combining some of the band’s signature old school Nintendo noises and Kela’s urgent, bass led sound has produced one of the album’s most prominent tracks. But “you won’t get a rise out of me” being the main lyric of the track, repeated endlessly, is a disadvantage; more is expected from the combination of two such highly lyrics-led acts.
French house master Alan Braxe adds his touch to poppy track Everyday. A definite summer dance track, Everyday has already been released as a single and gives listeners a chance to sit back and relax for three minutes, recovering from the mauling sustained by the first three tracks. Braxe is also involved with following track Crouch Touch Pause Engage. On the surface its chorus is fired up and heavy, but on further listening it’s clear that the rhythmic patterns and sounds used are actually very simple.
It soon becomes apparent that this is true of the entire album; this isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it is surprising. What is a terrible thing, however, is the bizarre accent Kela employs on the verse. It’s almost as if this Sussex born musician is trying to sound Jamaican.
Only two tracks on the album are entirely the workings of Killa Kela – All Killa No Filla and Came With Me. The former is an upbeat offering of differing tempos and interesting pauses marred only by a return to that slightly bizarre accent on the verse. The latter is one of the weakest songs on the album – a verse of hollow, monotonous spoken vocals, followed by a hollow, monotonous chorus that is vaguely reminiscent of a dodgy power ballad. Amplified could have done without this as its closing track.
Granted, this album is not an easy listen first time round, simply because of the opening assault. But give it a second (and perhaps third) chance and the brain begins to get used to the battering, and all the talent involved shines through. The wide spectrum of influences and the collaborations are clearly important to Kela’s music, and the result is, at least, addictive.