Every couple of years Darren Fitton aka Bola comes up with an hour of melodic electronica for Skam, and releases it under an excrutiating, but often fiendishly clever, pun of a title. Thus far we’ve had ‘Bola Soup’, ‘Bola Gnayse’, ‘Bola Mauver’ (an ep), ‘Fyuti Bola’ (which literally took me years to work out!) and the direct ‘Bola Ks’ (a single). Kroungrine is the latest. Insert ‘jack’ joke here.
Fitton seems to work in his own little Bola world where trends and fashions in electronic music pass him by. His music is identifiably his own, but has enough variation and experimentation to keep each release fresh. Consequently, it really doesn’t date at all unlike the output of many of his peers.
Kroungrine is a bit more of a mixed bag quality wise compared to its predecessors. There are some sublime moments, but a few tracks that seem a little stale. “Noop” is glorious, a slow, sad, melodic piece. “Waknuts” and “Urenforpuren”, though, are pretty close to being generic Bola tunes, and neither sticks in the mind at all. Unfortunately, “Halyloola” does. It’s a twee, toytown techno track that sounds like Kraftwerk doing the title music for a pre-school CBeebies programme. It is probably supposed to, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Things pick up towards the end with “Rainslaight”, a busy, but atmospheric, mid tempo groove that would grace any Bola record. “Diamortem” sails into uncharted waters. It’s multi-sectioned, fifteen minutes long, and has an abstract central part that resembles Zeit-era Tangerine Dream, before it picks up again with a forlorn, funereal beat. It ends in spaced-out, neo-ambient fashion with what sounds like a full string section. It’s a very unconventionally structured piece of music, with melody taking a backseat to atmospherics. At the same time, it seems quite sombre, almost stark, before the coda. Even the orchestration sounds more distracted than lush. It’s a fascinating track, and ends a curiously inconsistent Bola album – half top notch material, and half a little lame.