The sophomore effort from Kendall Francis harks back to the mid-90s and it was quite surprising, upon reading Kendall’ bio, that he was probably more interested in Matchbox cars and Power Rangers back then. To this wizened reviewer, How is Now is reminiscent of a misspent young adulthood amongst the record stores and seamy pubs of Soho & Camden. I almost had a tear in my eye, with fond memories of Plug, Paradinas, Squarepusher, the Rephlex label and that brief period of history before breakcore, when the nascent IDM scene was as yet unnamed and drill n’ bass ruled student bedsits everywhere. Bring on the Braindance!
Apart from some minor niggles with the quality of mastering on How is Now, this is a relatively polished and coherent bedroom production – all the more remarkable that it was produced in the small South Australian town of Yongala – population fifty – nestled deep in the Flinders Ranges.
Cut-glass synths fracture into a thousand pieces on “Near’; many producers would layer this to infinity and back, but Kendall’ restraint is admirable. This track ably demonstrates one of How is Now‘ strongest points – there’ a nice line in changes and drops, dicing breakbeats and accentuating different elements. “Lectron’ Pin’ is all lopsided jungle propulsion, circa 1992 and some cheeky sampling. The rave revival never dies. Air horn massive at the ready!
The majority of “Slow Day’ lowers the bpm into downbeat territory, complete with melancholic piano, rushing water, theremin-esque squiggles and lazy synth washes. “Jah” soundbwoy chants are subtle and not dripping with righteous dread, the atmosphere is more breakbeat jazz in the style of James Hardway or Red Snapper. There’ a playful mournfulness to this, and many other tracks on How is Now. Closing track “Bundaleer’ had me deep in the Congo rainforest, where electro pygmies meet Stock, Hausen & Walkman style simple sampling.
Kendall recorded the tracks that make up How is Now over a three-year period, and completed it late in 2009, in between finishing High School and heading to University in Adelaide. On the strength of How is Now, he put his indolent salad days to better use than yours truly.
How is Now is available on iTunes and you can preview the tracks on Soundcloud.