Clue to Kalo
By: Julia Simon
There’s no better example that the post-Postal Service world needs another dreamy folktronica outfit than Clue to Kalo. Australian singer/laptop composer Mark Mitchell, the mastermind behind CTK, combines the synth washes of dntel, the homespun aesthetic of Emperor X, and the vocal reticence of Elliott Smith meets Chris Carrabba on his sophomore effort, One Way, It’s Everyway. This might seem like a recipe for shoegaze stagnation, but while CTK’s miasmic melodies hum along somberly, they avoid falling into dirge-fueled fuzz by carefully contrasting spacious and disparate sonic elements.
Since his 2003 debut, Come Here When You Sleepwalk, few bands have matched Mitchell’s seamless, glitchy reverie. One Way bloops down a digital-yet-pastoral path and nods to whispered conversations between Bevan Smith and Ben Gibbard. From the drum machine-induced waltz “Seconds When It’s Minutes” to the slow-building burble “Nine Thousand Nautical Miles” and the RPM-ed out “Come to Mean a Natural Law,” CTK culls a diverse and delicately unraveling album that’s smart with details. In fact, One Way is so cohesive it’s easy to overlook the subtleties, like the unassuming synth swells on “As Tommy Fixes Fights” (Download MP3) and “Your Palsy to Protect You,” which are delivered as delicately as Mitchell’s heartfelt ruminations over death and human nature.
Fortunately, Mitchell isn’t just another sad sap secluded in his bedroom with too much software. His brand of symphonic, lushly layered electro-pop is imbued with touches of Technicolor that artfully blend ethereal digitalia with folksy grandeur. With comparisons to Slowdive and Mum, it’s no wonder Mitchell has toured with the likes of Caribou and compatriots Architecture in Helsinki. He might not be as freewheeling as his electro twee-popping tourmates, but Mitchell can blip along just as blissfully.