One of the year's most captivating releases
Martin Leitch
10:00 13th October 2021

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On their superb sophomore album, London-by-way-of-Paris-by-way-of-Istanbul duo Kit Sebastian confidently reinvent the language of international music new and old, presenting a fascinating vision in which diverse cultures bond without contention, disparate genres meld with an enviable ease and the line between contemporary and vintage becomes blurred to the point of irrelevance.

If the pair's 2019 debut Mantra Moderne established a cohesive and strikingly distinctive modus operandi, then it's with their follow-up collection that they cement their status as perhaps the most accomplished act currently working in the engaging yet poorly-defined world of boundary-crossing, funky neo-psychedelia.

Cohering the smooth, jazzy tonalities of late '60s library music, hazy art-rock, funked-up indie and crisp neo-soul, Kit Sebastian at once bring to mind a raft of influences without actually sounding like any of them. That's a difficult feat to pull off in any context—and especially so in a field where so many of their peers lean a little too heavily on the crutch of their influences, ultimately producing work which feels asinine by comparison to the material that informed it. No such issues are present on Melodi, though, and, indeed, for the sheer originality of its distinctive cultural and sonic hybridisation, it must surely rank as one of the year's most captivating releases.

Appearing on shelves through veteran UK indie outfit Mr Bongo, Melodi's vinyl release bears all the hallmarks of a title issued by a team thoroughly experienced in such matters—a fact that should hardly be surprising considering that the label have been active for over thirty years at this point.

Issued as a roughly midweight slab of black wax, the LP has been manufactured by Germany's Optimal Media, a popular pressing plant that have done themselves proud in the case of this particular release. Our example is free of anything more than the most minor and infrequent of auditory flaws, leaving the listener free to immerse themselves in its rich soundscapes. Mastered so as to wring the greatest amount of detail from the album's often complex and carefully-recorded arrangements, Melodi's vinyl release sounds nothing short of fantastic. The record itself has also been manufactured to high standards in other regards, being free in the case of our copy of both warping and any potential visual imperfections on the surfaces themselves.

Packaged in a standard-width, non-gatefold sleeve, Melodi's artwork—branded, as it is, with an evocative portrait of the duo—has been classily presented and well-manufactured. The cardstock from which the cover is produced feels reasonably sturdy in hand and, best of all, the record is included in a printed card inner sleeve offering the listener full lyrics (including English language translations where relevant).

Another thoughtful touch is the fact that Mr Bongo have resisted the urge to blemish the album's smart art direction with the inclusion of a barcode, instead including that particular necessity on a hype sticker attached to the shrinkwrap. Compellingly unique, Melodi is the work of an act fully in command of their vision and, with their vinyl release of the album, Mr Bongo have issued an excellent physical edition.  


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Photo: Press