The sound of Bulgarian producer Strahil Velchev (aka KiNK) has returned to our ears with a refreshingly diverse LP, ‘Playground‘. As a former Soviet Bloc country, Velchev has previously noted how the westernisation of Bulgaria has allowed its dance scene to flourish, with KiNK very much leading the way on his home turf. The studio in his parent’s house in Sofia has given birth to several hit releases on Macro, Rush Hour and Running Back.
Released on Gerd Janson’s Running Back, Playground follows KiNK’s recent rework of Radio Slave’s ‘Children Of The E‘. Having teased the LP since mid-July, Janson’s imprint has since described the track ‘Perth’ as ‘dripping with grease’ and that it’s ‘perfect house music for techno DJs and techno music for disco DJs’. This is a fair assessment, and the Running Back style of punchy techno loops and emotive house synths can certainly define a few tracks on this LP, yet the overall feel of it seems to teeter over the edge of the label’s idiosyncratic sound.
KiNK steadily buckles us up through the ticking opener ‘Soar’. We are swiftly moved up through the gears during an experimental second track, ‘Yom Thorke’, which appears to be a reference to the Radiohead frontman. The LP takes a dive through breakbeat drums and intergalactic sounds to arrive at the aforementioned track ‘Perth’. The criss-crossing of two fabulous house loops makes this the most accessible and commercial track of the album, as it both holds and energises the listener.
It’s fair to say this LP is separated by ‘Perth’, as the second half pulls us towards a deeper side of KiNK, not dissimilar from his early releases. Pulsating, murky beats coupled with eerie tinkles makes this half of the album shed its skin of any half-interested supporters, sending the remaining listeners on a hypnotic journey. This section of the LP encapsulates KiNK’s admirable heterogeneity within the Running Back realm. Between the two melodic bookends, the 12-track LP experiments in both forthright techno and fashionable house tones, rendering it one of the key albums of the year.
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