Review: Keenhouse ‘Four Dreams’ (streaming in full)

Release date: September 4, 2012
Rating: 4.5/5

Keenhouse, Los Angeles’ Ken Rangkuty, is streaming his sophomore LP “Four Dreams” in full now (embed below). Ranguty delivers a completely dreamy and infectious brand of electronica, which is international in scope, and occasionally shares some crossover with Sebastien Tellier’s “Sexuality” LP. “Four Dreams,” however, is geared much more for the electro-house dance floor.

Apparently Rangkuty took four years of traveling over several continents and recording to complete “Four Dreams.” The number four is not arbitrary. Rangkuty crafted the album into four distinct chapters to, as he says, explore “the freedom of working within electronic sound and the desire to expand on those experiences to knit together a storyline out of memories and imagination.”

The Tellier vibe is evident on opening track “Lost In The Night.” Rangkuty’s voice is much breathier, though—very soft and velvety. A groovier vibe is sought and achieved on “Echoplants,” which replicates the spaced-out downtempo of Air to a degree, but achieves a psychedelic flavor around the 3:20 mark that would make even the Gallic duo blush.

“Where I Belong,” which is one of the singles, is built on a percolating bassline and minimal but spacey instrumentation. It is on this track that Keenhouse really flexes his uniquely creative muscles. The retro-futurist aesthetic is playful and mesmerizing, with a repeating chorus of “Do you know where I belong?” The effect of the song is, well, genius—especially at 4:57 when the song suddenly shifts gears into a dance number.

“Twilight Bridge” is a welcomed blend of Parliament Funkadelic’s galloping bass and the lower profile French Touch dance music of the late ’90s and early ’00s (think: Alan Braxe and Fred Falke). Keenhouse is not afraid of abrupt shifts, as is the case on “Taura,” which simultaneously features Asian, cosmic country and late ’70s science fiction soundtrack styles. It’s greatest achievement is the understanding of space. Not space as in the universal void, but recording space. Layers are added but there is no clutter, no onslaught of sound. It’s well-written and produced.

Review: Keenhouse 'Four Dreams' (streaming in full)

There is a momentary tonal digression into chill wave territory on “Diary,” but Keenhouse is smart enough to know when to bend and warp, or hop, skip and jump to the next sonic motif. By the album’s midpoint, the listeners might well attempt to guess what’s coming next. Well, it seems that with “Emergence” Keenhouse maybe absorbed the sonic funhouse of Rustie’s 2011 LP “Glass Swords,” in which hip-hop beats, electro synths and R&B thread and spiral to make it damned near impossible not to want to do somersaults, then jump Diamond Dave-style, land in full splits, pull off breakdance for 5 seconds, then moonwalk to the bathroom for some drunken, drugged-out rock and roll.

The thread seems to be temporarily lost on the piano-driven space jazz of “Patchworld” after the ambient break “Median Of A Moment,” but it’s the sort of track that is quite frankly needed after the psychedelic rave of “Emergence.” One needs to relax after all—to bask in the glory of Keenhouse’s neon daydream. By this point, Rangkuty is bringing it all back home. There is some gritty, crunchy dance-floor ready goodness on “I Can’t Sleep Since” before a more classic acid house theme emerges on “Wet Earth,” which could seriously do battle with some of the best stuff that Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Orbital throw at their fanbase. The effect is pure wonder. Listeners will want to hear it blasting from monolithic speakers in the middle of rural field.

Album closer, “The Lullaby of Keenhouse,” is sample and piano-heavy. Soft, reflective and as calming as the water that is flowing behind the piano notes. It’s an elegant touch and fitting end to a really fantastic electronic album.

Keenhouse’s “Four Dreams” LP is out today on Binary Entertainment. Head over to Friends of Friends for more info.

1. Lost In The Night
2. Echoplants
3. Where I Belong
4. Twilight Bridge
5. Taura
6. Diary 11
7. Emergence
8. Meidan Of A Moment
9. Can’t Sleep Since
10. Wet Earth
11. The Lullaby Of Keenhouse