Lili Refrain is a solo-project created by a female guitarist, singer, composer from Rome, Italy. Kawax is her third album and for sure is a really interesting one for experimental and avantgarde music.
Lili Refrain builds her music around guitar, fx and her voice: all songs are an always-changing mix of guitar loops, multi-layered riffs and arpeggio, heavily effected sounds and her voice used to add lines remembering of mantra or monk chants. listening to this album you will be carried in a place not of this earth and out of time, especially if you do not to anything else but just sit and listen with light off.
“Helel” is a kind of dark lullaby introducing us to the world of Lili Refrain : distorted guitars with feedback and vocal harmonies from a distant place, sometimes you may heard influence from Fantomas. “Helel” is followed by Kowox where multi-layered looped guitars supports nice soloing (of course not soloing in the usual sense… distortion, feedback and reverb are here to stay).
“Goya” is the sum of what has been introduced in the first two songs : vocal opens the song with a beautiful repeated verse , guitar enters with a small riffs doubled by clean solo part, new guitars loop add rhythm and voices come back to haunt us… what is really stunning is how this album sounds out of time and space, this music is neither of these days nor of the past or future, is somehow spiritual and transcendental.
sometimes vocal and guitars loops are supported by percussion as in “Tragos” where a subtle percussion loops is the ground for several vocal lines creates a beautiful harmonies. and the following “Nature Boy” is of the same nature.
Lili also shows different sides of her talent like in “666 Burns” where guitars explode in massive feedback reminiscent of post-rock attitude, but in a more evocative way.
the same post-rock, evocative, almost-religious feeling is found in “Echoes” enriched by vocal insert. A 9 minutes ritual that introduces the last part of the album: “Baptism of Fire” where drums are featured for the first time and “Sycomore’s flame”, a nice kinda-of ballad where guitars provide arpeggios and paint soundscapes together with eerie vocal harmonies.
Kawax is a great album, sitting somewhere avantgarde, experimental, post-rock and in the same time it’s also a kind of ritual music that will bring you in a different dimension. the way in which guitars is used through the whole album is great covering arpeggios, riffs, soundscapes, fx, soloing and percussive part. even if album based on guitars and vocal may be in some case boring or repetitive, this is not the case; Kawax must be listen carefully and once you listen to it you will find yourself playing it again and again. this is not music for every moment, this is music that must be listened, not just heard while doing something else; so please turn off the light, crank up the volume, sit down and listen!
last but not least, the album artwork is fantastic, especially if you, like me, bought the vinyl edition.