The Ivvy League producer and vocalist brings forward an expansion on his previously released 2019 EP 01 REFINE.

In the world of modern emo-rap music, repetition has come to be expected; audiences have heard many times tales of heartbreak and hypebeasts. Despite this, Kiryano’s Refine 01 captures with skill and originality a now familiar world of fast fashion and drugged-out melancholy. Melodies soaked in autotune and pushed to the highest vocal notes bathe Kiryano’s stories of “flights overseas” and “smoking by myself” in a sort of auditory glare; the songs of Refine 01 very often leave the listener dazed, intensely focused in trying to piece together the musical fragments presented before them.

On Refine 01, Kiryano offers vocal melodies which range from subdued to truly impressive. The closer, “For You” features notes which are drawn out longer than anywhere else on the project to create a catchy, ethereal hook. “Venmo”, which is also a highlight for its smooth and bouncy production, sees Kiryano engage in faster, lighter flows that support Kketamine’s more substantial central verse (one of three vocal features on the album). The other two guest verses go to Dolly, who, like Kketamine, offers a more grounded vocal inflection to balance Kiryano’s falsetto; the contrast she offers is most appreciated on “Sit Back”. Whilst the lyrics can feel basic at points, it’s clear that Refine aims to capture an atmosphere with its vocals – similarities can be seen in Ecco2k’s recent E album, which is also filled with unconventional vocal patterns and deemphasised lyricism. Where Refine 01 differs from E is in the lack of downtime, and perhaps the listener would be benefitted by some more space to reflect on what they are hearing before moving into the next dazzling soundscape.

Kiryano walks the line between flowery poetics and gritty reality on Refine 01, with little interest in clarifying reality from fiction. “Venmo” is triumphant with an excellently conveyed carefree tone. “Fly overseas and then go broke, no second thoughts no issues” sings Kiryano on the hook; Kketamine follows suit on the verse “I’m on gas fuck a xan, all of my hoes on the mend, shirt came from Japan, I didn’t know she had a man” constructs a joyous dismissal of modern worries. “LSD Racing Team” may be distractingly entrancing, but paying attention to the bars delivered paints a darkly glistening world; “borrow all my sweaters in december, outside flowers wither” is comfortably simple, almost warming. “On a flight overseas, in a trance feel like LSD” is, again light on wordplay, but is delivered in such a way to build upon the atmosphere. “For You”, whilst inventively packaged, is lighter on content; “anything you see in the Prada store, I will pay for it yeah it’s all yours” feels a little contrived. The misses are rare though, and the project is so blindingly erratic that there’s often no time to dwell on them. In jumping between fantasy and melancholy the narratives created feel engaging for the majority of the album’s length.

Supporting these anecdotes is the album’s production, divided into brooding bass tones and glowing layers of synth melodies. “LSD Racing Team”, co-produced by Ripsquadd and Messiahbeatz, stands out for its mellowed consistency, which juxtaposes wildly with the bit-crushed screech of the following track “Waste”. The percussion on “Clubbing” opens the project with repeated snares and claps, before unravelling, becoming a flurry of crisp sounds which give the melody explosive backing. Kiryano has five production credits on the project, including (yet again) the outstanding “Venmo”, as well as the vibrant and orchestral “Sit Back”, co-produced with fellow Ivvy League member Lovbug. Lovbug is heard again alongside producer sg37 on “Fantasizing”, with clean, evolving synth leads that create a sense of adventure as new notes are added to the mix. At all times the production is purposeful and well curated.

Refine 01 is an engaging and imaginative project from a promising up and comer; Kiryano builds and destroys environments with intensity and finesse. It will be exciting to see whether future projects choose to build into more detailed stories, more impressionistic atmospheres, or, hopefully, a blend of the two.

Refine 01 is currently exclusive to Matter https://app.matter.online/albums/153
01 Refine can be found on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1EfzSQXRMbs0wBqS1aIklA?si=0kx2K3xpTVmnt45TTx_DCg and Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/01-refine-ep/1471757553

Follow Kiryano on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/kiryano

– Jamie (@youngjade1216)

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