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Kym Brown


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Beautiful and fierce evocative/eclectic ectronica/rock. Recent recordings more altpop.

Status:

Most recent release, Cursery Rhymes (2015)

See also:

Kym Brown's site

Kym Brown's bandcamp page

Comparisons:

She's like but not like Imogen Heap, Garbage, Holly McNarland, Sara Craig, Dalbello, PJ Harvey, Björk, Elysian Fields, Portishead, Massive Attack, Pamela Golden, Ruby

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

A bit triphoppy. (art@cs.sfu.ca)

Wow. Weird and wonderful sounds, a clear, pretty voice like Sarah McLachlan's but blended with distortions and all kinds of fun noise, including theremin. This is wonderful, truly wonderful. She reminds me a bit of Holly McNarland in the toughness of how she sings but how overall the songs are still attractive and not dark/depressing/ugly like some tough songs can be. Amazing music. (Neile)

Kym Brown rules...she's just the bomb the bomb the bomb...so y'all really need to get her album if you haven't already.... The bomb, I say! I'm excited by the idea that she uses Eastern European harmonies...that's incredible to me, I'm all about that Eastern European music...mmmmmm...it seems that there are a good number of female singer-songwriters going this more technological route...the queen of them at the moment is of course Kym Brown, since she's doing it all herself...program them beats, Kym! Play that theremin! Produce! (John.Drummond)

Comments about live performance:

Kym played a great set, and it was well worth the getting home at 3 am and not being able to make it at work the next day.
     She accompanied herself only with an acoustic guitar run through some effects pedals, and that proved to be more than adequate. She played several songs from Pygmalion (I recall specifically "ETA", "Hologram", and I think "Never Fade Away", though I may have hallucinated that), plus several new ones that were very good. (8/02, meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Pygmalion if you want dark and deep, Cursery Rhymes for more of a pop edge

Recordings:


Pygmalion

Release info:

1999—self-released—KB99001

Availability:

See Kym Brown's site

Ecto priority:

Highly, highly recommended

Group members:

Kym Brown

Guest artists:

Vitamin F—scratching & samples on tracks 2 & 8
Dion Cilliers—loop in track 2
Russell Piccard—drums on tracks 3 & 9
I. Sommers—cello on tracks 3 & 8
Ryan Robbins—poem sample intro on track 3, theremin on track 7
Rktgrl—samples on track 4
Coco—bass on track 4
Rob Kurzeiter—drums on track 8
Jim Routhier—Jupiter 6 on tracks 7 & 9
Rick Brummer—bass on track 2

Produced by:

Kym Brown, Todd Simko, Futcher

Comments:

What a stunning debut! I don't think I've played a new cd quite this frequently over such a long period of time in years. For some reason (inventiveness? her great voice and sense of song structure? the interesting noises all over this disc?) I keep listening and listening to this. This isn't pretty pop, though Kym Brown has a clear pretty voice—she writes dark-ish, tough-ish songs (with pretty moments and plenty of auditory hooks so it's not difficult listening that way), most of the vocals are doubletracked with a distorted tracks, and there are all kinds of fascinating samples and noises, including theremin. Hard to think of comparisons—I guess the closest I can get is to Holly McNarland and the overall combination of great vocals with fascinating noises Imogen Heap. The toughness/beauty combination that flourishes in almost every way on this disc is hard to beat. I highly, highly recommend this to anyone interested in intriguing combinations of vocals and sounds. (Neile)

her style sometimes reminds me of a slower, better version of the style from garbage's self-titled album (i haven't heard their newer stuff, so i don't know if the comparison still holds...i quite like their first cd but it's a little atypical of my tastes so i haven't wanted to push my luck :). something in kym's voice and rather dark style seems quite reminiscent of garbage's lead singer. and the electronic modifications of her voice. also the lyrics: two lines in particular, 'i want to suck your pain' and 'where angels fear to tread', really cement the garbage comparison for me. ...actually a lot of the lyrics seem to do this.
     lots of resonating, held notes in the instrumentation, along with some great instrumental shifts and moves that make my heart bottom out, like the sudden thrumming beat in 'ETA'.
     i think my favourite track altogether, is 'hollowmen', though i'd have a hard time pinpointing exactly why. followed probably by 'never fade away'.
     i've probably not given a terribly good idea of what the album is like, but then i've always had a hard time doing so. all i can say is that it's heartily recommended. (damon)

I love this CD quite a bit as well...though perhaps not quite as much as Neile. :) I think it starts much more strongly than it finishes, but fortunately it starts *so* strongly that it pushes the CD as a whole into the "extremely good" category. Many thanks to all on ecto who recommended Kym...this is a really wonderful album. (mcurry@io.com)

I had a problem with this CD. Since I received it two weeks ago I played it in loop for hours and hours and still couldn't find exactly what I found so fascinating, what made me want to press the play button again as soon as the player stopped. Her voice is fantastic but not really original, her music is hard to classify but you can find some comparisons. And then suddenly, it struck me: she uses usual components but in a completely unusual way.
     Let me elaborate a little: we ectophiles have a common characteristic of listening to lots and lots of music belonging to various styles—just look at this music guide for proof.
      Listening to all this gave me, and I guess you too, some "habits": during a song I can feel what will be coming next. Not only from a purely musical point of view, like a chord progression, but also in the treatment of sound, production techniques, change of rhythm.... It's not really a conscious thing, it's just something you feel. Of course it doesn't always work (thanks god!) but most of the time it is pretty accurate. Do a test, listen to a top 40 radio for 10 minutes (yes, you can do it! :-) ) and you will see what I mean.
     Kym is the first artist in years with whom it doesn't work at all. She looks like she wants to go somewhere and then goes in a completely different direction but in a soft way, it never feels strange or wrong. At the end of the song you are at the point you knew you would reach but the journey wasn't a straight line, you took many turns and curves. The amazing thing is that it still works after 50 listens; I am still not used to it. It is a very strange and disorienting feeling, like being in a familiar forest and unable to find the path you know is very close. I love it.
     I won't do a song by song review of the album because her music is hard to describe. The names that come to mind when I listen to her are Björk (clear voice, use of electronic, calm and not-so-calm melodies), Elysian Fields (the second song "milk and plenty" could be from Bleed Your Cedar, with the same sexually moist atmosphere) and of course Portishead; and, to a lesser degree, Massive Attack, for the triphop sound of most songs.
     I agree that it starts stronger than it ends but it starts so strongly that it doesn't really matter. The first four songs are incredible, classics at the first listen. I stated some of her influences above but they don't really describe these songs, you have to listen them to see what I am talking about. In the middle there is a song I can't stand. It is so predictable ("blue box"), it really sounds clichéd. Coming after the four previous jewels it has a terrible effect. The songs after are a little more familiar, halfway between ambient and triphop with little bits of pop. It ends with a remix, house-oriented but still listenable. Album of the year for me so far, no contest.
     I won't promise you you will like this CD, but I can bet you will be surprised if you give it a try: just listen to the samples on her website, play "hollowmen" and "ETA" and enjoy.
     Kym Brown enters my personal Pantheon just with Pygmalion. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

I love it too. It's been on heavy rotation in the car cd player since we got it. Actually, every time I listen to it I'm put in mind of Pamela Golden, and I'm not sure why. I actually dug out my copy of Happens All The Time to see if I could figure out exactly what it is, and while I still can't put my finger on it, I did reinforce my perception. It's weird.
     There are comparisons one can make on a song-by-song basis: there are a couple songs that could have fallen off From The Choirgirl Hotel, and there's another song woj calls her "Ray Of Light tune". But all in all she does stand on her own. I hope she can get a distribution deal for the album—more people need to hear her! Every year, ecto can be counted on to give me at least one great discovery: this year, Kym was it. This disc has been a constant presence in my car CD wallet since I picked it up. Her lyrics are weird and (mostly) wonderful, and her voice is a great complement to her electronica music. She needs to be much better known than she is—hopefully 2000 will be her year!
     (8/02) It's still every bit as good as it was when we first discovered it three years ago. (meth@smoe.org)

This is definitely different—still, it has yet to really capture me. I like it all, and do find it growing on me, when it fights its way into the player. It most reminds me of Ruby. Lots of noise, some funky beats, good, interesting and varied vocals, some very interesting (and blatant) lyrics. Grows on me more with every listen, but has yet to capture me emotionally. (jjhanson@att.net)

So much going on here, I'm just in my initial exploration stages and totally impressed. I think hey, maybe what Danielle Dax might be doing today, just on the leading edge of possibilities. (jsutton@rahul.net)

All is said about this (much too short) album. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

There has been so much said about it already, I've nothing to add. Amazingly strong debut! (afries@zip.com.au)


vista del mar ep

Release info:

2002—self-released limited-edition CDR

Availability:

Out of print almost immediately

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kym Brown

Guest credits:

The first 4 tracks were produced & engineered in London at the "Fallout Shelter" (Island Records inhouse studio) by the English production group called "Bluesound". Guest musician credits then include: Mark, Alex, Simon, with engineering by Steve (all together comprise "Bluesound"). The 5th track (remix of "Akamakazi") was produced at Studio X-Labs in Vancouver by Steve & Greg, & co-produced by Kym. Guest musicians on this track include Steve & Greg.

Produced by:

Kym Brown with Bluesound Steve & Greg

Comments:

This is a wonderful—though too brief—collection, guaranteed to whet your appetite for more! There are three new tracks: "akamakazi" is a driving, energetic, urgent song; "vista del mar" is dreamier and haunting; "sterilize" quiet but edgy, with predominantly acoustic guitar backing. There are also two remixes: "eta (bluesound mix)" (a song originally on Pygmalion); and "akamakazi (x-labs mix). Both of these are interestingly, though not drastically, different versions of the songs. I'm continually amazed how Kym Brown manages to mix her lovely voice with electronic and acoustic instruments and yet the total sound ends up feeling completely organic and utterly compelling—I keep having to play and replay this, just as I did Pygmalion. (Neile)

Cursery Rhymes

Release info:

2015

Availability:

Kym Brown's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended.

Group members:

Kym Brown—vocals, synths, guitars

Guest artists:

Lord Fader—bass and drum programming (1, 4); guitars (2); additional vocals (11)
John Fortis—Moog solo (1); bass (2, 4, 11)
Sam Kelly—drums (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11)
Stick and Zep—additional vocals (11)
Esme Foley—cello (12)
Talen Waver—guitar (12)

Produced by:

Kym Brown and Lord Fader

Comments:

It's really delightful. More pop and upbeat-sounding than her first two releases, but still as inventive, intriguing and edgy—just a lot of it you might want to dance to. Still sharp and dark. Her website says "The result is a colourful blend of pop oddity, catchy and thrown nicely off center by a deft slant of tone, lyrical context and sub-texture" which captures it well. (Neile)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-01-03 17:56:08.
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