Instrumental Narratives: Long Arm’s “Kellion / The Stories of a Young Boy”

The Russian downtempo artist crafts a story using only instrumental beats.
By    June 5, 2015

Chris Daly speaks Klingon and Esperanto.

Long Arm’s latest Project: Mooncircle gem, Kellion / The Stories of a Young Boy, the Russian downtempo artist, does the seemingly impossible: he crafts a compelling audio story using only instrumental beats. With his sophomore album, Long Arm transcends the world of simplistic beats and enters a far jazzier realm. Think Bonobo’s heady Black Sands, which still feels like it would play nicely alongside any Blue Note recording. If you’re looking for standard boom bap and loops, look elsewhere.

He tells the story “of a young boy who was born into a mysterious world he explores with his curious eyes, ears and hands.” A mixture of syrupy beats, off-the-wall instrumentation and children’s voices, K/TSOAYB plays like a sunny day at the playground. Obviously titled opener, “This is the Beginning of Life” is tinkling bells and a heartbeat drum, with swooping strings to up the emotional ante, making the listener admit, yeah, I imagine this is what being born might sound like if soundtracked by beats. Follow-up “Kellion” distorts a kid’s vocals to pleasing effect before “Frozen Sea” sets the listener adrift on pulsating waves of synths, horns and pipes.

“Little Boy” arguably is the standout track here, brushed drums giving way to giggling children and enveloping keys, kind of a testament to the feel Long Arm so well establishes throughout the album. Music for jumping in muddy puddles, chasing dinosaurs and building pillow forts. Sure, on tracks like “Lonely Mr. Ch,” Long Arm goes slightly more melancholic, but that’s part of being a kid, too, right? Following the emotional build-up of “Dreams,” “Kellion” comes back down to earth on the beautifully named closers, “Night of the Million Crickets” and “Foresthead,” the latter acting as a perfect lullaby, closing the circuit on this “day in the life” narrative.

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