This is a nostalgic, starry-eyed and idyllic album. Musically it is influenced in equal parts by Yacht rock like Christopher Cross, Doobie Brothers,Toto, and charming electronica like Mike Ink, The Orb, Oval, Border community, the Field, and Tangerine Dream. The truest intrinsic inspiration comes not from other music, but from real life events like relocating from Berlin to Los Angeles, being newly single, beaches, road trips, hiking, sunsets and cuddling.
Happiness is the complete opposite of lost in the game, which was a cryptic exploration of disorientation, psychosis and depression. Instead of indulging in melancholy, the shadow self and wallowing bad moments past and present, these
songs were consciously created by drawing from the most cheerful moments of the here and now, and connecting them to the best memories from childhood and late adolescence.
Sonically, we’re in similar territory to Lost, but there’s sincere buoyancy to this new set. “Cute Never Dies” is a perfect title and song to usher in this new set. Picture µ-Ziq’s happier melodies supplemented with orchestral cuts, and you’ve got the number for this bit of bliss. “Coronado Bay Breezin’” occupies the same top-down contentedness space as Nate Dogg’s classic “Where I Wanna Be” refrain, while “Happiness is a Warm Kitten” is appropriately playful – a squishy soul hug replete with vocal stabs.
The older and wiser Kid606 hasn’t lost his knack for epic track titles, with “If I Am Allowed Only One Song On This Album With Cut Up Female Vocals Then This Song Is It” leaving little to add – except that it’s a beautiful and exuberant builder, with bassy beds made for the cooing vocal cuts alluded to in the title. Melodically driven in a way that supersedes the transitory Lost in the game, Happiness gives way to thoughtful euphoria – blast “Party Gambas” and its joyful pad sweeps, and feel the warm enlightenment over your ears.
If there’s a black sheep, it’s the closer “Man – the Failed Child (Thank You and Good Night)” (still great with the titles, again). Eschewing the bubbliness that marks the rest of the album, this track stacks organ and synth-string drones that build up into a thick blissful crescendo before a long fade away into sonic stillness. It’s the track you play to let your internal monologue take over – and Kid606 wants to help you with that. There’s failure in life, so own it, and choose happiness.
released 21 October 2013
Happiness’, the latest album from Kid606, is reflective and nostalgic. But what else would one expect from the guy who first brought a California punk sensibility to glitch electronics with his label Tigerbeat6; was one of the first acts signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings; and was one of the first to shatter the taboo of crossing the rap and avant-garde genres? Oh wait, maybe this is the very last thing one would expect! Kid606, aka Miguel De Pedro, is fifteen years into a career well known for bold moves and statements. A career that quickly made him an iconic figure for his distinctly American, renegade approach to experimental electronic and dance music. He earned himself a coveted cover photo on The WIRE magazine yet still never made it all about him. Through his label he has always made sure people know there are tons of equally talented and forward thinking acts out there. Eventually this momentum led him to Berlin where he could take part in the influential, and hedonistic, dance scene there; a gateway to performing for ravenous crowds across Europe whenever he pleased. An experience that helped Miguel’s music grow exponentially, but also ran him into the ground with indulgent partying typically lasting beyond the next day’s sunrise. A moment like this in one’s career can’t last forever though, and Miguel has reemerged back in California, with his headquarters in the secluded desert in Joshua Tree. A location where he can create music in an entirely new way, but also remain engaged in Los Angeles’ booming music scene. A new phase in the Kid606 story has begun. Miguel is a master in his field, and ‘Happiness’ is the album where he reflects back on this wild ride. From the weird, last outpost of western expansion known as San Francisco, to the party capital of Europe, back to the lonesome plains; Kid606 is truly a cowboy singing his sagely song now. Or as another group of California pioneers noted, “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.”