Record Machine: Otherness by Kindness

Perhaps you haven’t heard of Kindness — the slow-jamz electropop project from Adam Bainbridge — but if you have a fondness for early ’90s-style downtempo dance tunes and goddess Robyn herself, then do click on through.

The cover art from Kindness - Otherness

Or maybe you have heard of Kindness; I don’t even know where the loop is, much less what constitutes “in it” anymore. Kindness has been around since 2009, popping up at festivals like SXSW and Bestival, and also as a support act for The xx. It’s very possible that you are already all about Otherness as a listening experience, but I stumbled across the album through Mom + Pop Records’ newsletter. Released just last month, Otherness reminds me of some of the music I’d listen to in the early ’90s — songs that were not quite 1980s synth-tastic, but they did not sound anything like the commonly remembered crunching-guitars of the following decade. Think of the more grooving Janet Jackson songs, less-funky Prince, or maybe a splash of Sade.

The songs featuring Kelela, like the one above, are perhaps the ones that remind me of Janet Jackson the most. They remind me of listening to cassettes in the dark, trying and failing to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Even as a kid, I never slept well, so instead I’d construct choreography and stories in my head based on the music I’d chosen for the evening.

“Who Do You Love” features Robyn and continues the longing for companionship and connection present throughout the album. With the organ, it’s almost a hymn.

So tell me how are you feeling
I saw you while I was dreaming

“For The Young” is a bit different from the rest of the album in that it has a guitar, played in a way that’s reminiscent of Diego Garcia. Its echoing vocals are beautiful. At the moment, unfortunately, YouTube is not forthcoming with anything I can share with you.

Even the cover, with its pale denim and long curly hair, is an early-’90s throwback. It might be a little offputtingly retro at first, but I dig it. And look at the vinyl itself! I am a sucker for colored — or in this case, the absence of colored — vinyl:

A picture of a white vinyl record laying on its case.

How unusual for me to talk about two somewhat modern records in a row in this column, rather than my old inherited collection. I like that vinyl has made a comeback, as I think it encourages a dedicated listening experience. You can’t hit shuffle, so the album’s wholeness is more clear. Sure, there’s the enclosed download card, which is convenient too, but I do enjoy that people are taking the time again to stay put and listen to a record. I’m not total luddite, but I think there’s something to be said for attention equaling respect. Music isn’t only meant to be background noise on your commute, sometimes we have to lay back and let it take us somewhere. Even if that place is a memory.

Side A

World Restart (feat. Kelela and Ade)Kindness - Otherness (inner sleeve)
This Is Not About Us
I’ll Be Back
Who Do You Love (feat. Robyn)
8th Wonder (feat. Manifest)

Side B

With You (feat. Kelela)
Geneva (feat. Kelela)
For The Young
Why Don’t You Love Me (feat. Devonte Hynes and Tawiah)
It’ll Be OK

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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