Ky – Power Is The Pharmacy

Posted: 30 April 2023 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , ,

Constellation – 12th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Ky Brooks’ solo work is, on the face of things at least, a very far cry from her output with noise-punk trio Lungbutter. This, of course, explains why it’s her solo project rather than the new addition to the Lungbutter catalogue: sometimes things just don’t belong together under the same banner.

That said, there was always a slightly experimental / arty bent to Lungbutter’s work, and it’s this which stands to the fore on Ky’s solo album. The title track is exemplary – and ultimately, fucking weird. Entitled with ‘teeth’ in parenthesis, it features a robotically-delivered monologue about ‘the integrity of the teeth’ and some weird shit over a gently gliding drift of warm, fuzzy synths. Teeth often make me think of Martin Amis, and specifically Dead Babies, but also my late grandmother who had all of her teeth removed when she was nineteen, to be replaced with false teeth she would wash with soap. I suppose you might say I’m easily triggered on account of my randomly-tripping memory which tends not to be my friend. But if it seems like an epic tangent, bear with me: it’s relevant because this is what music does: it sends you places. They’re not always good places, they’re not always or even often the places you expect, but it can open doors to recollections.

I suppose this makes the joy of music something of a double-edged sword, something I hadn’t always appreciated. You want it to open the channels and provide conduits for emotional connection, to evoke and provoke – well, at least some of us do. It’s not always comfortable or easy, but it’s about feeling something, and that emotional resonance simply cannot be found in the oil slick of mainstream middlingness, where everything is processed and pre-digested. Power Is The Pharmacy is anything but.

‘All the Sad and Loving People’ does rippling, pulsating ambience before whappy automated vocal wanders around all over it and things go strange. It’s pinned together by a slow, clacking beat that’s murky and subdued, evoking the spirit of Portishead with a smoky trip—hop vibe, which is in stark contrast to the sharp, stark spoken word of ‘Work that Superficially Looks Like Leisure’ which is unsettling in its Stepford Wives pro-conformity zeal which we instinctively understand to be false long before it turns rabid, both in its vocal delivery and crashing jazz drum explosion that rides in on a swell of expanding noise.

The Dancer’, released as a single is hypnotic, entrancing, and detached, deranged, with a looping synth blip bubbling along through sonorous scrapes and driven by an insistent, impersonal beat. You can probably dance to it, but you’re more likely to feel a growing tension as it cyclically bubbles its way over the course off nearly five minutes.

But then what do you do when immediately presented with a song like ‘Revolving Door’? It’s like Jarboe-era Swans and Big |Brave, with crushing chords providing the backdrop to a breathy, haunting vocal. You certainly don’t find a comfortable category for Ky or her work that’s for certain. ‘Dragons’ brings next-level intensity, and while there numerous comparisons which float into my mind, perhaps it’s better to highlight a unique talent rather than tame it with contextualisation.

There are so many details and textures here that make Power Is The Pharmacy an album that requires repeat listens in order to absorb them. That’s a challenge in itself, because it’s not an immediate album, and it’s a record that leaves you feeling like you need a break, to sit and stare into space for a bit after.

And perhaps that’s the way to approach this: with space, to allow it to breathe, and with no concrete expectations. The spoken word passages are very much akin to David Bowie’s Outside, I realise, and Power Is The Pharmacy could be described as a concept album of sorts. It’s certainly a strange album, but it’s interesting.


cover Ky - Power Is The Pharmacy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s