Album Reviews - Reviews

Ken & Ryu – Fantasy Ink


Space and electronic music are seemingly intrinsically linked. It’s understandable; the initial development of electronic instrumentation happened when the Space Race was in full swing. The sounds themselves feel otherworldly and wondrous and though synthy space music is by now a path well-trodden it’s far from an exhausted source of interesting sounds and good vibes. This is none more evident than on Fantasy Ink, a solid record of stellar funk from Belfast’s James McConville, aka Ken & Ryu. Clocking in at just over fifteen minutes, the EP treats us to a short and sweet galactic trip.
Opener ‘Backbone of the Night’ is our first little adventure which swiftly takes us to a Herbie Hancock-influenced slap-bass boogie. It’s a skyrocketing intro which leads us nicely onto ‘I Have Only Nowness’ which leads into a rather more subdued section of our interplanetary journey. It’s deep and warm and has shades of Steve Roach at his most cosmic.

The highlight of the EP is the gorgeous ‘Made Up’ which collides Drexciyan flavoured electro with 80s R&B, sampling New Edition’s ‘You’re Not My Kind of Girl’, all with admirable cohesion. It’s here where you can really see where McConville’s skill lies, bringing together an understanding of his broad influences to create something that is distinctly his. The R&B and funk influence is even more evident on ‘Peep Dis’, a collaboration between McConville and Aodhan Farren. It’s slow, smooth and will probably have you practicing your ‘come to bed’ eyes without even realising.

Fantasy Ink undoubtedly has its eye firmly focussed on the past and with the EP Ken & Ryu has laid his musical passions bare for all to see. It’s funky and welcoming, and ultimately a very palatable offering of cosmic, retrofuturistic jazz. Antoin Lindsay

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