Kasbo: Places We Were and Are Yet to Go

By Martha Kowalski

I would like to dedicate this review to an old and dear friend of mine, who is responsible for the very existence of this review. He is the one who recommended this album to me, by the same artist we had listened to back when “Places We Don’t Know” came out. For years now, we have been exchanging music between ourselves – new releases, old favorites, even some of our own creations – and he has introduced me to many artists that now spin in my playlists such as Dabin, Mako and now Kasbo. For that, I would like to say thank you, my friend; I look forward to much more music discovery between the two of us. This one is for you.

DJ and music producer Kasbo has made remixes of many songs, as well as several collaborations of his own with artists like Chelsea Cutler. My introduction to Kasbo came in 2018 with the release of his album Places We Don’t Know – let’s call this Volume One.

Sequels disappoint me most of the time. You know the feeling: when the second movie doesn’t live up to the expectations set by the first one and you wonder why a third one is even made at all, or a book series keeps going downhill after the first one but you keep reading in hopes that it has to get better but it never recovers. Why would you make me read six books just to have the characters give up their powers in the end?! When it comes to Kasbo, The Making of a Paracosm is the sequel but this time the sequel does not disappoint.                 

I first of all must address the cover art – the mirror image of graceful swans as if a reflection in the inky water and night sky. Imagery is key for me in the EDM/electro genre. Songs typically rely less or not at all on vocals and lyrical poetry, so I have to search else where to find that feeling. I find the imagery of this album particularly enchanting – beautiful, dreamy and surreal, setting the starry tone for the album that at times makes you feel as if you’re inside Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the music spiraling and swirling around you like the blues and yellows, giving me serious Vincent Zhou vibes. Continuous and fluid, one track melts into the next and composes this album as the kind of music you can set to play through the night until the moon turns its shift back over to the sun.                                          

The title track, “The Making of a Paracosm,” immediately transports you to this magical realm of Kasbo’s own “Swan Lake” or “Notte Stellata,” sending you speeding into the galaxy, the layers of melodies orbiting around you like constellations, with just enough of a slight touch of vocals at the end to echo through and transition into the rest of the album.  This first track best captures the atmosphere of the album and rightly begins the song sequence; it feels like an introduction, a prelude, a ride into the future on a vessel more lasting than ourselves, to quote a poem that I can’t quite recall but this one line lasts above all. And since some songs are more lasting than others as well, in a steady stream of music, here I highlight some of the tracks that particularly managed to catch my ear.

“Talk Slow” and “Staying in Love” appeal to my lyrical and vocal expectations, specifically in EDM/electro, where I expect even more out of the scarce lyrics – and I would definitely put, “Falling in love is easy, being loved is easy, but staying in love is hard” as some of my favorite lyrics of all time. “Lune,” I didn’t realize until listening to it a couple of times around, features Vancouver Sleep Clinic, one of my favorite artists due to their song “Someone to Stay,” and their collaboration with Kasbo is hauntingly beautiful. The wispy vocals transport me into the dim corridors of Hogwarts, a faint glow coming from only the Lumos-tipped wands and feels like it should be playing in the background at the end of The Half-Blood Prince or The Deathly Hallows. The song definitely carries some sort of magical quality to it.

One song that particularly stands out to me is “Hemma.” In the first few measures, I thought that I was actually listening to the intro of a country song I like called “I’m Coming Over,” but it quickly diverges from there. The peak of the song comes in the middle though – a crescendo of brass that you don’t expect but fits so well; I can perfectly imagine a couple in a sweeping blue gown and sleek black tux, dripping in diamonds and rain, dancing a swinging waltz under a streetlight to the symphony as if in a Sinatra-era musical, flourishing and elegant.                         

The more I listen and reminisce, the more I realize that Kasbo is not a new artist for me; “Lay It On Me,” has been in my playlist for quite a while now, like a bookmark from “Places We Don’t Know,” but now with the release of “The Making of a Paracosm,” it looks like I’ll be rereading – or rather, replaying – it for quite a while more.