On kiryano’s first full length, the Ivvy League mainstay’s sugary creations are starting to melt into disillusion. As his music grows, so too does the price of its hedonistic stories.
On his early hit “Venmo”, US producer-vocalist kiryano sings in a robotic falsetto “fly overseas and then go broke, no second thoughts no issues” as saturated digital sounds churn in exhaustingly beautiful loops. “Venmo” later landed on “01 Refine”, alongside other narcotic tales of candles burned at both ends. After that came “evening”, a more reflective turn from the artist that began to tackle these works’ void-filling nature. kiryano sings “Don’t need it but I want it, I’m trying to be honest, spend it once I got it, I turn nothing into something” on “distant”, a standout from “evening”. In the time since, and especially over the last year, his music has matured and expanded – the stories are fluid and more exposed, but in return for this vulnerability comes subtle brightness. On “03 Security” a new compilation of recent works, addictively saccharine tunes chip away to something far more real, and as kiryano slows to examine the world he’s built, he’s forced to confront what he could previously outrun.
“Security” is defined by these confrontations, most of which are told through tone and contrast. The opening adlibs on “Fun” sound like kiryano didn’t even know he was recording, thrown back into the limelight and forced to react. He murmurs through the lyrics “if you see me out in public, come and say hello”, as eager for fame as he is an escape. There’s a layer of belief on this opener that clashes with the vocals’ tone – the trademark high notes aren’t gone, but they’re not leading anymore. On the whole record kir’s voice is more grounded than on past projects, and even a little haunting at times. “Any Means” is a rare show of darkness, and the power on display feels earned. Lyrically the track has some of kir’s most direct bars; “I’m still the same, any way I can change, look for my ways”. As is typical for kiryano, production is top class across the board – “Fun” is full of loopy rhythms from mental, and glumboy collaboration “Armor” sounds simply lovely with its preppy drums and pleading synth leads. These later tracks embrace honesty and tackle the artist’s conflicted state of mind head on; on “Armor” kir sings openly “it’s like a drug I swear, the armour that I wear, and nothing can compare”. His words remain conflicted, but he allows his voice to be carried, opening up in the record’s best performance.
There are still moments that overload the senses – “Vetements’ comes and goes in a standoffish whirlwind, “Nothing’s Fading” is simply immense with shiny guitar melodies and revelatory writing, and “All I Know” stutters and clangs in muted metallics. “Listen”, with its cut up strings and digitised xylophone, is as homely as it is foreign. Often on “Security” kiryano seems to be reaching for the bright lights of the past as he is thrown into the future, struggling to find a solid sense of place in shifting musical landscapes. On the record’s three closing instrumentals – lofi house bop “Sttart”, surging “Wonderrr”, and coagulant finisher “Everything’s Well” – the pressure of the microphone is gone, and in its place are duelling senses of change and peace.
Listen to “03 Security” here.
– Jamie (Managing Editor @108MICS)