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Klein Harmattan Pentatone


The Harmattan is the name given to a season that occurs across west Africa, where dust from the Sahara is blown in from the north, subsuming the otherwise harsh light of the sun and creating an otherworldly haze, almost like fog.

The 11 tracks on the new LP from musician and multi-disciplinary artist Klein – also called Harmattan – swirl in a similar mix of elements: patterns and cycles, such as the drums rolling in the background of the third track, Trapping in C Major, slip in and out of focus and are often hard to decipher. References to her parental homeland of Nigeria (Made for Ibadan) sit alongside hints at her south London upbringing (Hope Dealers and Not a Gangster But Still from Endz), continuing Klein’s mission of gleefully constructing her own folklore out of the cultural landmarks of her childhood.

Having released a number of records on UK underground labels such as Hyperdub and Howling Owl, Klein has yet again shown her ability to continually expand in unpredictable directions, releasing this album via Dutch classical music label Pentatone. While the tracks use many of the ingredients of Western orchestral music, these are disassembled and filtered through her own unique perspective, creating sounds, such as the saxophone drones on The Haunting of Grace, which are powerful and strange.

It’s a remarkable and often challenging piece of work. Some of the tracks are dense and claustrophobic, and there are moments, such as the jangled and discordant piano melodies of the opening track, that not all listeners will know what to do with. Yet even these sections make sense. After all, what is the reality that we’re all living through now if not jangled and discordant?