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Visuals Review

by Tim Sendra

On Kunzite's second album, Visuals, the duo of Mike Stroud of Ratatat and Agustin White of White Flight further explore the meeting of the former's tightly wound electro-rock approach and the latter's mystical wanderings. The collision of sounds is a complementary one, and the record is jam-packed with bright and sunny tracks that are a little weird around the edges. Stroud brings some of the best elements from Ratatat, like powerfully clipped rhythm tracks, gleaming synths lines, and the occasional twin guitar solo; White adds soaring vocal melodies and words that feel borrowed from a trippy self-help manual from the late '60s, gently empowering and a little wacky. He sings on most of the album, and an easy comparison is Washed Out or Friendly Fires. Like songs by those groups, "Novas" and "Frosty" have a widescreen, soft-focus, slickly epic nature where the swell of the music pushes the vocals gently to the fore. When the music gets Metric or Phantogram big, as it sometimes does, White could stand to be a more distinctive vocalist, as he sometimes gets a lost in the mix. On the other hand, it's also kind of admirable that he's willing to become part of the songs instead of strutting too far out in front. When he sits out (or merely provides wordless harmonizing), the album comes closer to Ratatat territory. The intricately arranged "Waimalien" could have easily fit on a late-period album, the strutting "Jupiter" is like a refreshing blast of serotonin, and "Supreme Beam" is a wonderfully rubbery song made up of gnarly synths, robot voices, and some tricky dynamic shifts. For a Ratatat fan coming to this record, it's hard not to want more tracks like these, or those where White's vocals provide texture instead of being the focal point. That being said, this is a collaborative effort and White does bring something positive to the mix in the end, and even though Kunzite isn't quite up to the level of Ratatat, it is a fine electro-rock diversion.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
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blue highlight denotes track pick