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Synthpop EP Review: "Before We Knew Love Existed" by Kiffie

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Kiffie’s “Before We Knew Love Existed” EP combines thoughtful lyrics, his emotive vocal performance and a synth tapestry that weaves together sonic layers into an expressive whole. It’s an EP full of his unique sound and musical sensibility.

“Buried In The Fields” comes to life as hand claps echo into empty space. Kiffie’s voice trembles as it flows out above rough, descending bass and a thudding drum. The vocals have a yearning, empty quality that moves with the shadows that swirl from the descending bass.

Fragile piano notes move in the distance as Kiffie’s voice echoes along with steady claps and a repetitive metallic twanging sound. Drums throb and bass growls, adding to the sense of danger lurking in the background. Steady, metallic sound repeats and descending bass slabs fall slowly before fading out.

Our narrator asks the audience if they will “be a hero…take a stand…fight the demons…protect this land.” He goes on to wonder if, after that, we will “find the answers…understand…see through the veil” and if the hero will “rise again.”

The storyteller goes on to say that clouds had gathered and there was a long road ahead. He adds that “no one dared turn back to the life of comfort and peace” as that option had been taken away. “The invisible enemy” had come back and the time had come for heroes and “for heroes to die.”

Now the narrator calls on his audience to put on armour and raise their shields so that they can “train with all the others to be buried in a field.” The call to arm up is repeated and our narrator adds, “become another hero, to be buried in the fields.”

Resonant, repetitive digital-sounding synth moves with the desolate drift of Kiffie’s voice to open “Immortals.” Percussion pulsates in bursts and bass shifts as the digital sounds move in undulating lines over the breaking, stuttering drums.

The drums form a steadier throb while melancholy piano notes echo out along with Kiffie’s empty and hurt voice. Piano rings out and guttural bass waves wash far below. The piano notes have an aching feeling and Kiffie’s voice diaphanous as it drifts through the music. The vocals move above the void, over the guiding drums and into silence.

The narrator addresses another person and asks them to take “the fire from my eyes” as he also wants them to take his pain away and “say we’ll never die.” He asks for that person to also remove “the sword from my heart” and the “scar from my soul.” Now he asks that person to say that they’ll never die. He concludes, “Take the pill to forget and say you'll never lie.”

“Perseus” begins as Kiffie’s ghostly voice drifts above flowing, glowing synth and a hard-hitting guitar weight growling below it. Kiffie’s haunted and floating voice carries the ethereal melody while the guitar surges ferociously.

Gleaming synth drifts in extended notes along with a string section as the drums throb hard. Piano dances out in flickering, fluttering lines and the guitar’s shadowy surge snarls again. Kiffie’s voice is a spectral presence above the huge weight and power that underpins it. The lead synth is elevated and tight before it fades away.

This is a song about triumph over difficult odds and ultimate success. The narrator talks about the song’s subject walking towards the sun, head held high as they “face the fear again” and ultimately achieve victory.

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Our narrator again talks about the song’s subject walking toward the sun and now looking “at the road ahead” as they face hatred. He tells that person to “just turn your head and look away again.”

Now the narrator tells the other person to “use your mirrored shield, put on your flying shoes, And ride your steed into the sky” because “you’re Perseus.”

Kiffie’s resonant, hurting voice moves over shadowed, broad synth shifting in heavy lines to commence “Only Have Love To Say.” There’s a steady drumbeat underneath the harpsichord like synth carries a trembling, aching melodic pattern.

Warmer sounds swell and tapping percussion moves with dark bass shadows. Lightly twinkling harpsichord-like synth vibrates in over a digital-sounding note pattern as the weight below supports the more delicate musical elements.

Metallic synth repeats a slowly circling arpeggio as Kiffie’s voice aches with nostalgia. String-like synth carries a melodic pattern full of a pained brightness and the steady beat continues to shape the music. A piano-like synth carries a cascading pattern of descending notes. Over it all, the vocals add more desolate emotion.

Longing for a return to happier days in a relationship is natural and this song explores those emotions. The narrator talks about remembering when “we could run all day…we’d make love all day” and at night they’d “dream away.” Now our narrator is left “wishing for a day when we’d only have love to say.”

The storyteller harks back to “kissing your neck and lying in hay” on summer days or “kissing your lips and laughing all day.” He asks if the other person recalls how they talked at night, made love all night and didn’t fight. Once again he talks about “wishing for a time when we'd only have love to say.”

“Then I Found You” starts off as shimmering synth sparks flicker over Kiffie’s emotive, tender vocals carrying a flowing and caressing melody. The drums add a skipping lightness as synths sparkle and a medium-high synth arpeggio spins.

Kiffie’s voice is gentle as the drums leap and a swelling current of rising, caressing synth adds more depth to the music. The vocal melody has an affectionate feeling as the other musical elements intertwine in a rich, deep flow. Kiffie’s voice is full of feeling as rippling arpeggios dance and a shifting, resonant synth moves in full notes before the music fades.

This song’s lyrics are full of affection, gratitude and caring. The narrator says that before he met the song’s subject he was afraid that he couldn’t love another person in that way again. He adds that before he met them “I was quite scared of monsters sat in caves and demons under stairs.”

All of that changed when he found the other person and saw their eyes. He adds, “And then I wrote you a lullaby.” The narrator asks if the other person makes believe that “you and I could be together in this world for eternity?”

Our narrator asks if the other person thinks it’s wrong that “every time you’re gone, I write another song hoping you won’t be too long.” He concludes, “Thank you for loving me.”

© 2022 Karl Magi

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