By Blake Parker
Kin Leonn’s debut album, Commune, falls welcome on curious ears. Leonn is a young voice in music, Commune being his first full-length release in association with Kitchen Label. But his sound is a quilt sewn of familiar and obscure inspirations alike, and comes together in a warm and wholesome result for the listener. Hailing from Singapore and residing now in London, Leonn has a wealth of musical backgrounds, from modern classical to abstract electronic, and from easy-listening keyboard and piano to experimental ambient and noise-based soundscapes, all of which can be heard as influencing factors in the sounds of Commune. The album as a whole listens as an anthology of what is possible on the canvas when one has so many paints to choose from, and across all ten tracks it seems Leonn applies every color in his own individual way.
With such evocative song titles as Shinrin-yoku (parts I and II) and Noumenal, even glancing at the tracklist of Commune can catalyze an imaginative journey for listeners. Of course once the music begins, this journey evolves rapidly into a multi-faceted kaleidoscope of genre-bending sounds both acoustic and synthetic. A key characteristic gluing all the varied atmospheres of sound together, though, is Leonn’s ability to provoke emotion with his playing. Whether utilizing abstract found sounds, laying heavy on a sweeping synthesizer chord, or plucking out distinct piano melodies, everything on Commune is done with the utmost care for emotional impact.
Moments of this album may be reminiscent of sweet summer days in one’s childhood, or perhaps of darker times when the light of hope was dimmer than normal. Some may find themselves pointedly reminded of an individual, maybe a close friend or relative whose significance in their life is quiet yet great. These are the ineffable nuances Leonn is able to reach out and touch, and indeed even bring directly to the minds of his listeners. While in this respect I almost beg for songs to have a cinematic pairing, there is definitive potency in the notes themselves without any visual accompaniment, that when let to wander across a blank mind they paint their own images sharper and clearer than any filmographer might hope.
And I implore those who are able to invite the songs in Commune to paint their own pictures for you. It’s true that with closed eyes, the sounds of Leonn’s playing seem to strike the canvass of the mind with a vast array of colors, some of which even escape definition of the eye and are found only in with ear. To this end, the music of Kin Leonn’s Commune should not be missed.