Gloo – XYZ Album Review

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Gloo is a new supergroup consisting of UK mystic-beat producers Iglooghost and Kai Whiston as well as nu-pop singer/producer BABii. Iglooghost’s style is maximalist and full of conceptual scope, given that the bulk of his music is meant to be the soundtrack to his fictional world of Mamu, where all manner of creatures and ‘Iglooghost’ wizards reside. His sound is often at breakneck speed but still playful and bright, reaching far along the atmospheric spectrum.

Gloo XYZ Album

Kai Whiston has a lot in common with Iglooghost’s raised-in-the-internet sound, but is more headstrong with traces of nu-metal and brostep influences and overall feeling more mutated. Then with BABii, it was literally only a couple of months ago that she released her debut album ‘HiiDE’, which is one of our favourites of the year; a journey of acceptance in a failed romance, heightened by ethereal production and pathos storytelling.  

These three bright rays of hope in UK electronic music are coming together for the first time for their debut album ‘XYZ’ which sees the best of all their worlds coming together for something truly excellent.

After the short racket of the title-track intro, ‘Lux 2’ really kicks off ‘XYZ’ with sharp, squeaky claps, malfunctioning vocal cut-ups, whacking bass and sprinkles of xylophonic melody, before transitioning into more spacious and isolated territory. This part of the track feels like an erratic panic, the vocal samples more sped-up and scattered against tense, pulsating bass. The song snaps out of it though, lifting off and soaring.

‘Drown U’ is the flipside, introducing us to the delightful pop side of Gloo, as BABii’s innocent vocals declare her love for someone (“Do you wanna be a part of me?”). The melody of her voice, the bright, jumping rhythms and funky clicks all fire along in celebration.

‘Lockii’ has been out for a while now, but it can’t be stated enough what an odyssey this track is. The first half is an Iglooghost/Kai Whiston tag team of battering vocalisations married with a skipping melody, before a well-choreographed movement of warped harmonies see-saw up and down, back and forth, like an elegant samurai duel in 360 degree rotation. Halfway through, Kai taps BABii into the ring for a more spellbinding attack defined by her usual blizzard-chill, but set to Iglooghost’s dizzying speeds. BABii’s glacial tone is blistering and electric, though we do come back to Earth with warm, comforting noodling and a more crooning vocal.

It’s signature Kai for ‘Maü S**t’, with otherwordly textures over mutated creaks of noise, but you can also detect Iglooghost’s nimble melody in there as well as graceful progression. The climax of this track is a repetitive, stabbing, high pitched key playing out like a mystical-beat equivalent of a ‘chug chug, wee wee’ riff from a hardcore band, paired up with sledgehammer-like bass. This is a prime example of how metal aspects of this scene can be, when s**t gets this sinister.  

Then we come to ‘C Thru’, the most tender and delicate song on ‘XYZ’, where BABii delicately laments being able to see right through the subject of the song. Meanwhile, Iglooghost casts these romantic keys and percussion that dance around BABii with truly magical effect. BABii’s voice is sped up and the choir-like harmonies soar for the emotional climax of the song. The lyrics leave a lot to the imagination, but there’s colourful imagery and whispers of a secret. It’s rich in ambiguity, but the listener can grab whatever they need from the track and the stunning instrumentation will have you coming back regardless.   

After a hard minute, ‘Teef Chizzel’ sees more spotlight on BABii’s wintery vocals, but the masterful, graceful noodling of Iglooghost and boisterousness of Kai unite for triple threat fun. After all, anything with cowbell is an instant 10 in our books. 

‘Barely Twins’ is the most club thing any of these three have done and probably will ever do with its building, tribal rhythm, pulsating synth and hooligan-like whistles. The song even goes into an athletic, Jersey-like break which is just ridiculous from these cats. 

‘Lamb’ closes ‘XYZ’ with the most swagger on the record. BABii is wide-eyed and self-assured (“everything I touch, turns to gold, you can’t fight this, double it once, double it twice”); adorable, but so deadly. Like an Ewok. She’s not wrong either; the rest of this track wraps up this damn fine album with thrilling, rapid percussion and wraith-like cut-ups of BABii’s vocals, married with irresistible vocal harmonies and potent arrangement. This is before a curb-stomping drop, where the thudding bass just keeps on kicking and a drunken, manipulated ‘Gloooooooo teeeeeeech’ bows the record out. 

Overall ‘XYZ’ is a killer, out-of-this world, bonkers record from some of the most otherworldly, excellent musicians of recent times. Like all the best collaborations, each member in play brings out the best in the others while still knowing when to hold it back to let someone else shine. These are three musicians still very much in their prime overlapping to construct maybe their best network of material yet. The only complaint to be hard is that there’s just not enough, clocking in at a mere 28 minutes across eight full tracks. On the strength of this though, there’s no reason there shouldn’t be more Gloo and no reason people won’t be begging for more.