Kit Sebastian ‘Melodi’ LP/CD/Cassette (Mr Bongo) 5/5

Duo Kit Sebastian may be London based but their sound isn’t so easy to pinpoint. They absorb and renew a vast array of styles and influences from Brazilian Tropicalia to 60s Europop via Anatolian psychedelia and US jazz. Kit Martin, raised in London and France takes care of instrumentation while Merve Erdem originally from Istanbul is charged with lyrics and vocals which she sings in Turkish, English and French. Their music very much stimulates the visual imagination and the duo have produced evocative videos which become part of the songs rather than simply visual accompaniment. They also use short filmic fragments to sketch out moods, ideas and a sense of place in their imaginations. ‘We like the 60s and 70s aesthetic and it influences how we produce our sound and visuals, ‘ Merve Erdem explains. Kit Martin cites cinema as his main source of inspiration and describes the sound as ‘lo-fi hi-fi’, while Merve adds ‘books, long walks and crises’ to her list of inspirations. Melodi is their second album following their 2019 debut Mantra Moderne. The new record follows a similar thread but in a more concentrated and assured way, taking the eclecticism of their influences to another level. With some live events coming up Kit Martin says ‘some of the songs are very contemplative and some very dancey. It is important that we don’t replicate the studio sound and leave some room for improvisation’.

‘Yalvarma’ is the album’s catchy opener, there’s a wistful Europop feel to it and the Anatolian vibe is immediately evident in the rhythms and Erdem’s vocalisations. This is all fused with a neat retro jazz-funk keyboard theme and some beautiful key changes in the vocal. The lo-fi sensibility makes it sound like a track off a much-loved mixtape that has spent rather too long in the baking hot sun on an extended road trip.

‘Agitate’ follows, it’s one of the album’s high points; there’s a heavier groove-based sound, the Heliocentrics meet Belle and Sebastian. It’s a homage to political agitators everywhere, ‘The song calls on its listeners to remember, act against injustice and question figures of authority from our daily lives.’ It’s a great example of how important the aesthetic is to the band, the video has a real Deutschland 83 vibe to it with plenty of stylish yet sinister period details. From the bunker to the trim phone it’s all done with great humour and wit but the point is hammered home quite literally.

Later on the sublime and dreamy ‘Inertia’ is also influenced by the duo’s love of cinema. They use ‘orchestral textures that reminded us of certain soundtracks from our favourite films.’ The lyrics were written in response to Marlene Dietrich’s performance in the movie Der Blaue Engel. It’s probably one of the most pop-oriented tunes on the album, more Bacharach and David than Anatolian psychedelia which makes its juxtaposition with ‘Ahenk’ which follows all the more satisfying. A solid keyboard theme soon fuses with enigmatic Anatolian grooves and spoken vocal, an angular horn arrangement makes for a very 60s, very Avant-Garde ambience.

‘Don’t Take This Badly’ rounds off the album. It’s a Brazilian theme that channels Gilberto Gil in a 60s Tropicalia homage; it’s as light as a feather and like every track on this inspired album it is a highly stimulating place for the imagination to travel to.

James Read

Read also:
Kit Sebastian ‘Mantra Moderne’ LP/CD/Cassette (Mr Bongo) 3/5