Adam Bainbridge’s Kindness project could have very easily been one of those oddities that never made it past a debut album. That 2012 debut World, You Need A Change Of Mind, was a suave and stylish record that took its major inspirations from the mid-point of ’80s dance and pop. It’s still a pleasing record in its sonics, though noted at the time, the artifice and irony was a tad too heavy-handed.
Bainbridge hasn’t exactly excelled in the established routes of the industry. Public-facing live shows are rare and considered while recent remixing and collaborations suggest he’s happier conducting or producing the creative process.
For album number two, Otherness, his recent work away from Kindness is manifested through its guests. Dev Hynes, the zeitgeist producer and alt-pop svengali at large features, returning Bainbridge’s favour in the production on his own Blood Orange album Cupid Deluxe. The two share a similar aesthetic and influence. On the album track ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’, the partnership comes together in a three-way ballad between Hynes, Bainbridge and Tawiah, that is as smooth as it is heartfelt. It’s old-fashioned in its soulful throwback execution, something which Bainbridge does consistently across the record.
The largest splashes in genre-terms are made by horn-fed soul, slowed-down funk and R&B with piano, bass, and tasteful finger-clicking percussion dominating the instrument lineup. Bainbridge has largely ditched the ironic touches and delved deeper into a wider array of sounds.
Where World, You Need A Change Of Mind largely explored the rhythmic side of the era, Otherness is a much more laid-back and restrained experience. Bainbridge, through a wider array of sounds and guest voices like Kelela and Robyn, dials down the dance and escalates the emotion.
Kelela’s dominant tones stick out over her three song appearances while Robyn adds some drama on the stop-start ‘Who Do You Love?’, though rapper M.anifest feels shoehorned onto ‘8th Wonder’. Without the freshness of guest vocals, Otherness sometimes goes to a meandering zone. Bainbridge, on his own, can struggle to lift a tune into a memorable place in melody, and it’s almost easy to overlook that because he’s a superior producer, the album is sumptuous, inviting and vintage.
Even highlights like ‘World Restart’ and ‘This Is Not About Us’ lack some resolving urgency despite fine passages of music throughout. ‘I’ll Be Back’ is happier indulging in its hook and mood than taking us anywhere else within it, and that’s a takeaway for the album as a whole really.
Bainbridge took his own debut’s advice and changed tack by making something that required him to do less winking (though he couldn’t help sneaking in a snippet of the Art Of Noise’s ‘Moments Of Love’ on ‘With You’), an admirable decision. Otherness does have its moments but if it reveals anything it’s that Bainbridge’s songwriting talent isn’t as impressive as his sonics just yet.
“We’re in an era when we have the freedom to be completely postmodern in the collage we make, the things we’re inspired by, the sounds we use, It would be boring as hell, lazy, and cowardly to just do what you’ve already done. I did my first record. I don’t need to do it again.”
So Adam Bainbridge told Pitchfork earlier this year. Having listened to the Guardian stream of Kindness’ Otherness, his second album yesterday, he has a point. Different shades are present and while there’s still a background of suave alt-pop, funk and soul, the album has a different tone and guests like Robyn, M.anifest and Kelela help bring that out.
‘This Is Not About Us’ is a good example of what the album features. It’s not an immediate track but its percussive shuffle and vocals set to simple piano and bass notes warm up over repeated listens. The video above, a dance choreography video was shot straight on film and co-directed by Bainbridge with Daniel Brereton. Choreographer Karla Garcia was in charge of the feet.
“Some of my favourite videos are simple choreographies – for the ‘This is Not About Us’ video I wanted to try working with a choreographer and push myself to work on dance in a way that was less free-form and messy. I’m glad to have had the chance to work with Karla and to appreciate even more the role of the choreographer. It’s an ego-less thing to give yourself over to making someone else dance as well as possible, especially when they’re not nearly on your level. Thank you to the crew and Dan for capturing our day together.” -Adam Bainbridge
Kindness teased a new album with an MJ-referencing clip on Friday and today, Adam Bainbridge has announced details of his second Kindness album entitled Otherness, trailed itself by a new song called ‘World Restart’. The song is a laid-back sparse ’80s Afrofunk groove with vocals by Ade and the brilliant Kelela. The brass is played by saxophonist Finn Peters.
The album is coming on October 10/13/14 on Female Energy and will feature contributions from Robyn, Devonté Hynes, rapper M.anifest, pianist Sam Beste and Kelela on two tracks. Kindness’ debut World, You Need A Change Of Mind was a 2012 favourite album.
Otherness – Track Listing
01. World Restart feat. Kelela & Ade 02. This Is Not About Us 03. I’ll Be Back 04. Who Do You Love? feat. Robyn 05. 8th Wonder feat. M.anifest 06. With You feat. Kelela 07. Geneva 08. For The Young 09. Why Don’t You Love Me feat. Devonté Hynes & Tawiah 10. It’ll Be OK
Pre-order with instant download of ‘World Restart’: iTunes | Amazon: http://found.ee/otherness-amazon
Every Thursday night at 10pm, I get two hours of the airwaves on TXFM to play two hours of my favourite new and some old music. Here’s what I squeezed in last night (May 1st), including a special half-hour of hip-hip towards the end. FUN.
Tune in to TXFMevery Thursday night at 10pm for two hours of new music with me on TXFM.ie, at 105.2FM, via the site, the TXFM app in the iTunes Store, TuneIn, or on your TV if you’re on UPC. A listen back function is coming to the TXFM site shortly.
On May 19th, Dev Hynes’ aka Blood Orange is releasing a 12″ of remixes of his Cupid Deluxe track ‘Uncle Ace’ (out digitally already) and the two remixes, one from a/jus/ted, and this one from Kindness is well worth your ear time.
Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge and Dev Hynes have remixed each other and worked together before and on his remix he goes for a light funky touch with vocals by Chicago house singer Fingers Inc‘ Robert Owens.
It’s lovely, but also nice to hear that there’s a second Kindness album on the way to followup his brilliant 2012 debut and it’ll feature Blood Orange, Kelela, Robyn, production by Jimmy Douglass (Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z) and maybe Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the R&B production duo responsible for Janet Jackson hits and more.
In which Aoife and I play a plethora of amazing tunes from the last few months, remind ourselves why Purity Ring is a weird band name, why bands need to stop releasing demos as finished tracks, take a brief exploration into ’80s fanzine-assisted electronica, and inadvertently insult loads of people throughout the podcast. Oops. Enjoy.
Opening with swirls of guitar solo notes, synth rushes and a brisk beat, the first 90 seconds of ‘Seod’ is an establishing shot, the pulling back the curtain reveal on opening night. Zoom in and booming, bubbling synthesizers recall a hazy black night in a ’80s night club, velveteen lush with soft lighting and echoes of transparent trumpets.
So begins the debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind, from Kindness, the immersive dance project of Adam Bainbridge, an LP that is as suave as it is danceable. Exploring the mid-point of ’80s dance and pop could result in a gaudy and unwanted ephemeral noise but Bainbridge plainly loves the music of the era and is adept at conjuring the sound without specifically pointing at it. The atmosphere and stains of that point of music history is everywhere on the album.
This year was my fourth South By South West and before I left for Austin, I was apprehensive about the festival’s status as a relevant music event in its 26th year. Over 2,000 bands visit the Texas capital to try and advance their careers and I wondered why they bothered anymore? Was there actually worth in them playing? Any band who travel the large distance must have a profile, a buzz or are there to strike a deal on Texas soil to make it really worth their while. Bands that travel on blind faith and hope that something will happen for them are delusional and hopefully few and far between these days.
For me, SXSW is a festival that I go to for new music and the opportunity to gorge on it over five or six days. This year a a giant vending machine made the news, commercialism was rampant, Jay-Z playing a gig to credit card customers, Springsteen gave a (mighty) keynote speech while Kanye, Jack White and Skrillex all packed in venues. At the same time, you’ve got an art gallery playing host to a hippy-leaning label showcase, the Boiler Room broadcasting leftfield electronica from a backyard out of town, bands busking on the street and industry chasing the buzz for their own benefit. It’s contradictory, crass, nothing and everything all at once and that means that SXSW is just a pop-up macrocosm of the music industry as a whole.
The first track from Kindness‘ Philippe Zdar co-produced album is out on white label in January. ‘SEOD’ follows up ‘Cyan’ and supposedly “all tropical percussion was programmed on the beach in the Caribbean.”
Kindness’ Philip Zdar-produced single ‘Cyan’ is exactly the kind of heart-spinning Arthur Russell-esque disco-noir song that should be on our stereos before a night out. And it won’t leave you blue like the title suggests. The video finds Adam Bainbridge signposting the song’s lyrics via the background. The 12″ is out via Terrible Records in the US on October 25th and Female Energy elsewhere.