Hour of the Ox review: Katie Kim offers light and darkness

Fifth album is an exercise in balance

Hour of the Ox
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Artist: Katie Kim
Label: I Actually Like Music
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Katie Sullivan’s fifth record (released on her own label) is an exercise in balance; chaos with restraint, and light with darkness. The inspiration for one of her songs, the potent Eraser, partly frames the entire album; Alan Pakula’s 1976 film, All the President’s Men and its opening scene, where flashlights flicker amid the dark. Hour of the Ox richly trades on this paradoxical image.

Mona opens with the buzzing sound of flies morphing into a drone that lingers and underpins, and strings that scream but sigh as it breaks into something else, with spoken word taking us to more reassuring waters.

Feeding on the Metals nourishes with its sloping sensuality and driving bass, and Helen (Carry the Load) conveys a sense of emergency with its glassy piano. Gentle Bird emerges out of its dark chrysalis to reach a clear-eyed vision with Sullivan’s confiding vocal never sounding better.

Into Which the Worm Falls benefits from strings amid an ambient wash, and Golden Circles and its creaky metallic backbone resembles an old folk song, with a sad truth gnawing its way out. It complements I See Old Joy, a tattered loving bloom of a song. Really Far is modern, yet rooted in something timeless, reaching an intriguing tempo, it is emotionally resonant, evocative, and atmospheric, much like Sullivan’s central vision, her hour, this Hour of the Ox.

Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture