MKESK is the solo project for Kory Iwahashi. Iwahashi started the project in September and somehow found time to record a seven-song LP entitled Sick In Transition. My first impressions were that Iwahashi is an artist who has some innate talent and seems to be headed in a trajectory that will result in some more than impressive material down the road. Iwahashi has been playing guitar for six years and only singing for about a year.
This is a fact that is actually pretty evident within the recordings. His voice stays within a comfortable lower register and isn’t very dynamic. The delivery is nonchalant and almost Stephen Malkmus like at points. In general I liked his voice and it worked best against songs that were bright containing a good amount of optimistic energy. The very first song “The Feeling Is Slipping Away” is a great example of these two stylistic components working together.
“The Feeling Is Slipping Away” combines a fuzzy warm arpeggiated synth and clean, delayed guitars with a solid rhythm section. Iwahashi gets everything right on this track. The vocal melody is a poppy hook that gets stuck in your head and the instrumentation coalesces into pure ear candy. “The Feeling Is Slipping Away” was in my opinion the strongest song on the album but that doesn’t mean he doesn't have further success.
It becomes obvious that Iwahashi has an ear for being able to combine disparate sounds that when combined are aesthetically pleasing. The sub sonic bass on “Expressions” sounds natural against the delayed guitars and synths while the sound of running water makes sense against what sounds like a field recording of a river or stream on “In Between.”
Although his vocals seemed too loud on “Take Me Away” I thought he did a good job at implementing vocal harmonies. Iwahashi ends with “Enlightenment,” which was a solid closer that has a vocal melody that is almost as catchy as “The Feeling Is Slipping Away.”
Sick In Transition LP can’t compete with releases from similar acts like The Postal Service or MGMT but it’s within the realm of possibility that his future albums could. Iwahashi is a work in progress but I thought that Sick In Transition built a very solid foundation that he can improve from.
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