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Kahimi Karie - K.K.K.K.K. (Le Grand Magistery)

by Courtney Knopf

Kahimi Karie is the biggest thing in Japan since the Tamagotchi. The breathy-voiced princess of bubblegum dance-pop is the definition of icy-cool, selling out immense stadiums within minutes and being the closest thing the Japanese have to an "It Girl." But then there are a lot of things that the Japanese are fanatical about that I donít fully understand. This is not to say that I donít like Kahimi Karie, but there are moments on her second U.S. release K.K.K.K.K. that make me want to throw myself in front of oncoming traffic.

Beck loves her. Cornelius loves her (he not only dated her, but produced her first album). Even Momus, big weirdo that he is, loves her. So why canít I fully embrace the aura and mystique of Madame Karie? She is exactly the sort of artist I typically gush over and use as many fifty-cent words as possible to sing the praises of. I admit it; I usually slaver. But I just canít. And she even sings in French! I think this is obviously a character flaw on my part.

Karie is a pop singer, not a song writer. All of the tracks on K.K.K.K.K. except "What Is Blue" were penned for her by other people, including Momus and French pop singer Katrine. The lyrics are really quite smart and funny. "One Thousand 20th Century Chairs" is a frenetic voyage in synth pop that alludes to dancing around your apartment to Beckís Odelay because her last boyfriend wouldnít let her. "What Are You wearing?" is a minimalist piece of pop with lines like "I used to be the Walrus, now Iím John/ I used to be a wham bam thank you maíam/I used to be the kitten of all Japan." Thereís even a song about wunderkind director Harmony Korine.

I think the main problem I have with this album is Karieís voice. Itís so breathy as to be almost unintelligible, and at such a low register I have to wonder how she appeases the giant crowds she plays to in Japan. Musically, I really enjoy this album. Produced mostly by Momus and German moog-monsters Stereo Total, the disc is full of catchy pop melodies and layered beats and crazy sound textures. I have a feeling if someone like Sarah Cracknell from Saint Eitenne had lent her voice to the songs on this album in place of Kahimi Karie, Iíd come out of it with a far better opinion of it. At the very least Iíd know what the lyrics were without having to consult the CD insert.

The U.S. version of K.K.K.K.K. includes four extra tracks that were not on the original Japanese release. All are remixes by fairly well known performers including Buffalo Daughter and Add ĎN To (X). The strongest of these though is the Shinco remix of "What Are You Wearing?" that lays down a funky bass line and a sample of a clarinet for a jazzy, down tempo groove-fest. This track makes me thing Karie should ditch Svengali Momus and take on Shinco as the producers for her next album. If that happened, Iíd get over myself and embrace it with open arms.


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