Kuma - I Grew Up In Spectral Places

Released: May 29 

I Grew Up in Spectral Places is a statement and testament to the dull, grey, and cloud-filled skies of Kuma's hometown of Vancouver and how it directly influences the kind of music he makes. Fittingly, the album is filled with bleak yet inquisitive textures and tracks that bear striking names such as "I'll Make You See What's Left of God" which is both the opener for the album and one of my favorite song titles in probably ever. Like virtually all of the tracks, it's a long and slowly evolving piece that features heavily processed vocalizations that are turned into ethereal whispers and hums that ever so gently tickle the listener's eardrums. As it moves along slowly, it incorporates gentle and airy keys playing in a haunting loop as some odd atmospherics crackle in and out. It definitely sets the tone for what is to come later. 

The use of heavily processed vocals is something that I particularly enjoyed about this album, both for the way in which it is incorporated and the frequency of its use. These vocals don't come in on every single track, but show up with perfect timing throughout. "Peacocks Have Very Mean Little Eyes" starts off with these wonderful singing tones that are positively soaked in atmospheric reverb. They continue on, even as the heavier soft white noise drones peep in to the soundscape without displacing anything else. But not all of the tracks have this softness to them. "I Grew Up In Spectral Places," the track bearing the name of the album, replaces this softness with an intense amount of layered drones that slowly increase in volume until it become a deep yet permeable wall of grey clouds. But it still manages to incorporate those ghostly vocals that define the album. 

In describing what I heard, I can see that it may come across as something dark or depressing. But in actuality, it is nothing like that. Rather, it comes across as neutral with a wistful undercurrent and does not soak itself in any kind of ill-mannered vibes. I imagine it to feel much like sitting on the porch on an overcast day - the temperature is perfect, the sun is situated behind a wall of blue-grey clouds, and I can simply sit and soak it in without sweating or sunburning. Just because the sun is not shining, doesn't mean that there is anything to be sad or morose about. 


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