It's no coincidence that close friend Carl Craig's Planet E imprint is home to both Keys, Strings, Tambourines and its accompanying single release, the mighty "You Are..."; Craig and Larkin came up through the Detroit techno ranks together, following parallel career paths up to a point. The fork in the road came when, after releasing a handful of classic singles and two outstanding albums (Azymuth and Metaphor), Larkin chose to follow his dream of becoming a stand-up comic while Craig soldiered on, becoming one of the most creative, consistent and prolific voices the Motor City has produced. Larkin's tunes are somewhat similar to Craig's, in fact, full of alien funk, layers of textural noises and hairpin compositional curves while maintaining a clear eye on the floor. While Craig's material tends to be heavy on the percussion side, Larkin has always been more melodic.
Musically speaking, then, it's like Larkin never left. Opener "Androgenous" starts with a marching line of percussive keyboard phrases and (of course) tambourines before rolling off into a classic-sounding Detroit groove, all atmospheric synths and expertly woven rhythm patterns. "Glob" works a late-night vibe with its scatting keys and snappy house patterns, while "Drone" is a minimal hip-shake littered with percussive noises that burble and bloop into a sick groove. The CD version of the album also includes the "Light" version of the "You Are..." single, a manic shuffler over which Larkin rants and raves about "your" greatness, his booming voice adding to the apocalyptic feel of the track, as well as the original mix of the single's B-side, the Plastikman-like drum workout "Bass Mode." (Did I mention that Larkin was the first signing to Hawtin's Plus 8 label, too?)
Throughout the album, Larkin peppers his elegant tech-house rhythms with jazzy keyboard fills, strings, tambourines and oddball synth blurts, making for an especially tuneful listen that doesn't skimp on the ass-shaking. Fans of Larkin's classic works will not be disappointed here, nor will those discovering his music for the first time (a likely case, considering how long he's been out of the game). Here's hoping he sticks around this time and lives up to the promise of his early career.
Buy Kenny Larkin - Keys, Strings, Tambourines at
Tracklist: Kenny Larkin - Keys, Strings, Tambourines01. Androgenous
03. Keys, Strings, Tambourines
04. Wake Me
05. You Are...(Light)
07. Computer Rain
09. Bass Mode (Original Mix)
12. Cirque de Soul
13. Deja Vu
14. Wake Me (Outerlude)
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