· By Justin Vitale
Album Review: GENDEMA - KARAMBIT
Released: November 20th, 2022
Genre: Electronic, Experimental, IDM, Downtempo
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Formats: Digital, Cassette
Record Label: Cityman Productions (Finland)
Karambit sends you somewhere warm, fascinating and exotic. Its alien landscapes and liquid-like flow are expressed in perceptive detail through GENDEMA’s smooth mixing and arrangement. Employing texturing wizardry, Karambit is laced with intimate and alluring atmospheres throughout the album. Unique foley and forests of reverb give each track a special sense of location that carries a momentum from one track to the next.
Even though the music is heavily electronic, KARAMBIT has this organic and natural enchantment that breathes its own rhythm and life. Listening feels like lush jungles expanding to the horizon, exploding with color, and exuding temptation. The melodies explore this space with inquisition - but simultaneously induce a meditative trance that is deeply relaxing. Harmonically the arrangements speak eloquently and fluently with each other, blending seamlessly through its changes.
The album artwork and cassette design marry in harmony with the musical ethos, retaining the play between organic and digital worlds colliding. Art created by GENDEMA, the chrome metallic orbs and anomalous form dominate a well manicured green space on a cloudy day, overrun by contrasting red lines emphasizing the flow of energy in the strange figures. Cityman Productions executes an immaculate presentation of the music and artwork for the cassette release.
It begins with an otherworldly orchestra of synths and industrial breathing opens the album modulating, building, and eventually releasing to a reverb soaked beat. The jungle inspired drums are a constant theme to KARAMBIT that always kick in with an emotional charge. Nostalgic layered keys dovetail with hypnotic vocal chops and all eventually drift off gracefully to lush sonic landscapes.
GENDEMA blurs the sections and phrases of parts to give KARAMBIT an uninterrupted feeling from beginning to end. Going from futuristic sci-fi like ambiences to almost bucolic, there is always a warm cloud of haze surrounding each piece that entices you inward. Entering it is transformative, like seeing new colors form in the fog.
The use of ephemeral vocals finds their place well. Sometimes strange and cryptic, they lend an emblematic top layer to the album that adds an extra human connection to the music and the otherworldly place it represents.
All of this encapsulates within GENDEMA’s widely varied and artfully designed production techniques that solidify the persona of KARAMBIT. Each track will leave you guessing where the timbre will tweak and the wall of drums will come crashing down neatly into place. It’s tranquility and affections adorned by thoughtful songwriting is a raw animation all of its own style.
Exclusive from the Artist:
What was your inspiration behind the album?
The idea for KARAMBIT really came out of nowhere. But I don't think it was just a coincidence. It was after a period of a lot of reading and cinema consumption. To be more specific, communist reading and Iranian cinema. The idea behind the album, although I'm not sure, because I don't plan my albums much, is to express in an almost tribal (and intelligent) way, the human values that capitalism and the culture of consumerism knew how to dissipate.
The plurality of genres is, in my opinion, what it had to be. Necessary to express a path that I also went through in my life to mature in many aspects: Confusion, innocence, a bit of anguish, energy, and an implacable strength.
In conclusion, I would define it as an optimistic album, influenced by Iranian hills, rural life and revolutionary ideas and strategies. But no, it is not a pacifist album. Clearly.
How long did it take from start to finish?
This album was entirely produced in the month of August 2022. Mastering was completed in early September. So this album from start to finish has taken about 1 month and a week.
Was there any music gear that contributed to the overall sound? Can list the gear you used as well.
The only instrument external to my computer used in this album was a Casio XW-P1.
Everything else was entirely generated on my PC through VSTs.
What is your music background and how did you start GENDEMA?
Honestly, despite not having an academic musical background, my interest in producing and weaving sounds together began when I was 10 years old. At the age of 13, I started uploading my first creations to the internet. I uploaded mostly Dubstep. It was a time when that genre was very popular among social groups where I was moving at that age here in Argentina. But at about 17 years old I moved away completely from that music scene. I totally lost my interest in that kind of sounds and people from that universe.
I started to discover new sounds that called my attention much more in artists like HOME, Persona La Ave, Windows 96.... Curiously in this same period I started to consume a lot of Nu-Jazz as well (Alfa Mist, Robohands, Błoto, Immortal Onion, etc.) and because of that, later on I started to connect with IDM artists who were the ones who ended up lovingly molding the musical part of my brain (Aphex Twin, Ross From Friends, Cylob, Kelly Lee Owens, Four Tet, etc.).
I don't want to get too long either, the point is that I listen to a lot of music, not in the sense of quantity but in the sense of types/genres outside of electronic music. I think it's important for electronic music artists to listen to music outside that world.
GENDEMA was born at the end of 2019 when I uploaded a Synthwave EP called "Racing Gloves". I still remember how my hands were shaking with excitement while I uploaded it to Youtube and Bandcamp. Fortunately, I still have that feeling.
My first idea for an alias was "Gadamer" but it was already occupied by someone else, so I made up another random name that sounded good to me, and that's how the name GENDEMA came about.
I like to make up names for my tracks as well, I enjoy generating abstract words without meaning that just sound good to me and I feel they represent what I do. I'm very spontaneous for music in general, something that curiously contrasts with my daily life, where everything is strictly planned.