Review: Kilter - 'Through The Distortion'

Written By Zanda Wilson on 06/05/2017

After a steady string of scintillating singles, raucous remixes and lit live shows, Kilter has finally unleashed his debut album Through The Distortion. This album delivers on the potential that the Sydney musician has shown for some time now, and packs in a stack of diverse tracks showing off the many sides or ‘Shades’ if you will, of his persona as a musician.

In no small part due to his musical background as a drummer, Kilter has become a staple of the Aussie live music scene for some time now, but it was no guarantee that he would be able to pull off a large project such as a full length LP with the same conviction. Kilter has, over the years, released plenty of fun, percussion-driven remixes and originals, but as he showed with his 2014 EP Shades, there was always a sense that he wanted to put together a more diverse and explorative project that would encompass his far-reaching stylistic influences.

Through The Distortion contains plenty of radio-friendly material, like the previously released Count On Me, Running Away featuring Tyne-James Oran and They Don’t Know Us. These tracks, littered across the record, fill the criteria of having singles to release and give punters a bit of an idea about Kilter’s sound, especially for those less inclined to commit to listening to a whole album.

But including a massive 13 tracks also allows Kilter to show off some more subtle, vibey tracks like Hold Tight featuring Pip Norman and Waste Time with vocals by Woodes, as well as beat-heavy bangers like the up-beat and tropically minded ‘Shut It Down’ featuring rapping by Yaw Faso. Kilter continues to explore his take on hip hop vibes with the wonky Treasure which shows off the stylings of African rapper Espacio Dios (and is also the only international feature on the record).

Those who have been close to Kilter’s work for many years will be most excited to hear exploration into a darker, moodier and harder-hitting side to his work as well, through largely-instrumental tracks like Badai (which also serves as something of an interlude), and to a greater extent Shatter. With earth-splintering drops, its name only hints at what a huge track it is, as he emphasises changes in texture and tone colour rather than bothering with too much complexity in the way of melody. If anything, Through The Distortion could probably have used more tracks like it.

A lesser artist would struggle to feature so many other musicians and still create a long-form musical project that makes sense as a body of work, but not so Kilter. We are eased into the album with intro track Ritmo, which not only functions as an introduction but also holds its own as an exciting track of its own accord. More sing-a-long style tracks are littered throughout the record, keeping it on track, as Kilter explores these different inclinations of his persona as an artist, climaxing with the aforementioned Shatter and finally closing thing off with the already-successful I Hear You.

A debut record is often as much about exploring what you are capable of as an artist as it is putting together a refined body of work. Kilter has done that in spades, and with Through The Distortion he has smashed apart the box that represented what you’ve come to expect from his music, whilst still satisfying those who’ve popped by for a short boogie. This record is going to take his live sets to a whole new level.

Through The Distortion is out this Friday, 9th June.