A duo based out of Berlin, Kiko King & creativemaze’s debut EP, Intellect Illuminated (Mesanic Music), expresses bold sensations with an invigorating blend of chill beats, haunting atmospherics, and uplifting hooks.
creativemaze – a composer, multi-instrumentalist and audio engineer – offers a perfect sonic groundwork for Kiko King who approaches lyrics like poetry. Very little tangible biographic background is known about the enigmatic duo except that their destination moment was accidental and it happened in 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Their respective creative responsibilities can loosely be summed up by saying that Kiko writes/sings the lyrics and melodies, and creativemaze composes the music.
“For us, it’s about the feeling conveyed in the music, that’s more important than genres or musical approaches,” creativemaze explains. “Eliciting a reaction from the listener is way more important than having the person being able to identify subject matter or categorize us based on instrumentation.”
The Intellect Illuminated EP is the first installment of Kiko King & creativemaze’s music. The seven-song EP (including a remix) was carefully crafted from a catalog of 140 songs. The tracks share an ethereal beauty anchored by gritty and propulsive basslines, soaring vocal melodies, and poetically abstract lyrics. The leadoff single “Cramps” is an intriguing mix of ominous atmospheric electronica, infectious melodies, and gorgeous vocals that manage to be as sinister as they are sensual. The song’s accompanying video reflects this bold contrast of danger and desire. “Cramps” is also revisited on the EP as an extended and entrancing remix. On “Basquiat,” Kiko King & creativemaze immortalize the neo-expressionist in abstract splendor with evocative wordplay, sweetly atmospheric melodies, and diced up beats. Other EP highlights are “The Last Airgender” which contrasts dreamy melodicism with a stirring and disquieting chorus, and “Illusions of Time ft. Jorlyn-Selina” which features a captivating acoustic guitar motif and smoldering female vocals and was debuted on the HBO series House of Lies.
But the surrounding mystique isn’t meant to be exclusive or insider-y, it’s about the desire to keep a level of purity in the music. “It really is about the freedom of feelings and everyone’s unique experience of the music. Even when I ask Kiko what his lyrics mean, he responds, ‘What are you hearing?’ That emotional reaction is more important than a singular interpretation,” creativemaze reveals.
Kiko King & creativemaze recently came stateside touring with pioneering electronic music group GusGus and will continue to Europe supporting the Icelandic band before returning home to ready its second EP. Pressed to describe the aesthetic on that one, creativemaze says it could be metal, singer-songwriter, or electronica. “We keep ourselves open to the flow, and work hard to capitalize on the energy presented to us,” he says. “There shouldn’t be thinking in the creative process.”