Katie Kim – Hour of the Ox
Hour of the Ox is Katie Kim’s sixth full-length album, and the last to be released under this moniker. It is therefore both the end of an epoch and a scent of what may come next from the Dublin-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Kim wrote and recorded this collection while in the process of moving to New York, before mixing it upon her return to Ireland during the pandemic. Longtime collaborator John “Spud” Murphy produced what Kim describes as a capsule, recorded in an unforgiving and vengeful time.
The buzzing bee that draws listeners into Mona is soon swamped by a cinematic flood of sound, and then met with trembling synths and brittle drums. With vocals, it becomes a thick, opulent soundscape underscored with unease. To Kim, the soaring cinematic heights reached in the final half represent an aspiration for something better, sensations of emancipation and awe. There is a deliberateness to Mona as the entrance to this album.
Single Eraser thuds and creeps with muted percussion. Kim’s vocals feel closer, more intimately recorded. They are whispery and careful, woven into unpredictable lyrical structures that lend a narrative feel, and they progress elegantly with the introduction of both expanding violin chords and clean, chilly pizzicato on a single string. She sings, “Why do we do what we do?” quite casually, albeit ponderously, amid the unnerving atmosphere.
Feeding on the Metals practises simplicity with stripped base and piano melody, as well as those familiar minimal drums. A thin, unfussy base is created, leaving space for vocals that are smoother and more clarified here – the effect, before it is all soaked in synths, is trancelike,
Gentle Bird is a seven-minute, dark novella-like track that feels like an otherworldly story of desire. At its peak, it bleeds into the next, Into Which the Worm Falls, a slippery blend of strings in a recalibration of a haunted, sunken mood, before the violins settle into a more specific structure for the paced and creepy Golden Circles. Lines like “teeth flying out of my mouth” and “taste like chalk” exhibit songwriting laced with a horror recalling the likes of Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers. Really Far sees the return of the jittering synth, but vocals are dustier and more distant this time. There is a deep, earthy feel to this track, which later elevates into a suitably filmic finale to what Kim began only 40 minutes earlier.
Hour of the Ox is a dark mood, carefully conjured and maintained using only a handful of primary elements: most significantly, lush strings alongside an array of disquieting synths. The result is an acquired taste, haunted yet decadent, unhurried and unusual; not to be listened to flippantly, and certainly not taken lightly.
Hour of the Ox is released on 9th September 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Katie Kim’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Eraser here: