Kiyama's MySpace has the phrase 'true beauty has sadness' next to her pic. That may be her philosophy, but as to a description of her music, it's pretty limited. 7 Years doesn't work on along the beauty/sadness axis reserved for the likes of Junior Boys. Her music is more sullen with hints of something otherworldly. Most of Kiyama's songs sound close to minimal locked grooves but with subtle variations in one or two of the elements. When this works well, it's both hypnotic and opium-like. 'I was Weak at the Knees' is constructed around a distant, ghostly alarm but progresses to a tumult of echoey chains, increasingly twisted pinball bleeps and handclaps. Similarly engrossing are the chopstick duel of 'Hakobi' and 'Sirsana', where a smothered keyring afterburner combines brilliantly with a pattering organ and spaceships slowly zooming overhead. Given the fine balance between the (few) ingredients this involves, it's perhaps unsurprising that not all of the tracks get it right. However it's a let down that five of the eleven don't quite cut it. 'Let Me Burn Your Book', for example, starts well with some K-hole morse code but just sits for six minutes. Likewise 'Ant' and 'Isotope' are involved without being engaging.
But don't feel this album is a letdown or doesn't have hidden pleasures, because it does. Kiyama makes you feel like something's going on around you and invites you to look for it over your shoulder, even though nothing is there when you do. Like the jungle of 'Scattered' where hints of crickets, dogs and water flick around a bamboo mating call, and 'The Innocent', which is more like Murcof than minimal. Kiyama's also not averse to throwing all this out the window and on 'You Won't Speak to Me', the album's only tune-based track, she creates a deranged, essential banger.
7 Years gets its title because it’s about everything she's learned about music since 2001. Hopefully she'll hit the books so we won't have to wait until 2015 for the sequel.