Monday, October 18, 2010
Kirin J Callinan
She (edit) by KirinJCallinan
Photo by Mclean Stephenson
This music makes me happy.
Something about the way he sings, matched with his inhuman mastery of guitar effects literally send shivers down my spine, and while I understand how some people might not get the music, perhaps finding it too odd for their liking, his debut single She, in my mind, is one of the most important Australian release in a long time, and one of the most thrilling songs I have heard this year.
Too often artists seem intent on referencing old artists or appropriating genres from the past, but with Kirin there is this sense of freshness and danger in what he's doing. Not to say the music is without influence, but it somehow it dodges even the most obvious of comparisons. What he does he makes his own in a way that shows a surprising maturity for such a young artists' first release.
There isn't a shred of compromise in his music. This unrestrained sense of experimentation underlies it, Kirin standing bare before the audience, his own creativity the only thing standing between him and the audience rather than having built up a wall of hip touchstones of familiarity to shield himself and appeal to hsi audience. While there are other artists who achieve a similar sense of indivuality, it's the obvious attention to detail and an intense level of scrutiny applied to his songs that set him apart from other artists who seem so intent on being different they lose the sense of craft in what they're doing. Kirin has standards of songwriting that he is clearly dedicated to, and the result is that the music, while having a freewheeling feel of discovery and innovation, still sounds cohesive and mature. Nowhere do you feel like you're being led through hallways of improvised sonic indulgence, everything has a purpose and everything is in it's right place.
While his MySpace showcases other earlier and skeletal works, mostly recorded at his home, She is very much his coming out. With every sound on the single being made with his guitar, as well as a few little splashes of drum machines and live drums here and there, the song takes the convention of a singer/songwriter playing with nothing but a guitar into a strange new world. With his highly musical and melodic use of guitar effects, he really shows how they can be used as instruments unto themselves, yet he doesn't allow them to overpower the music and turn it into art noise, the songs all coming back to his powerful vocals, walls of noise giving way to sparse and open arrangements leaving ample space for his voice to shine.
It's just such a joy to see an artist with ethics, and to whom such ethics mean more than commercial success. When too many artists seem pre-occupied with playing up to the expectations of their increasingly fickle audiences, Kirin, who played guitar in Mercy Arms and plays with Jack Ladder, refuses to conform to the what those fans from either project would expect him to sound like. While you might call him stupid or stubborn for not exploiting such an opportunity, of not playing the old game of get famous first and then make the art, in the end such concerns should never encroach on creativity and it's great to find an artist who doesn't let them.
There is true courage in this music, true courage and true expression, two things that are becoming very difficult to find in music today.