Music Reviews: Chris Keys - Greyscale
by Brennan Ko-Madden
Chris Keys releases another album chock full of nostalgic beats and coffee cup vibes
The title of the album, Greyscale, lends a sense of ennui to this body of work that feels like an overflow from Keys’ older release, Balance. In a sense, Greyscale feels like the continuation of the ideas found in his sophomore albums, almost like another chapter in an ongoing story that is yet to finish.
A strong feeling of solitude permeates all twelve tracks on this album. It’s like the paradoxical feeling of being alone in a crowded subway. That feeling of solitude is the real beauty of this album. Whether you are at home or on the go, Greyscale has the ability to immerse you in a story and have you lost in a deeply melancholy state of mind, if only for a few minutes.
More so than his previous releases, Keys keeps the formula on this album simple; lo-fi spun samples mixed with shuffling drum patterns and Keys’ signature improvisations on the keyboard. It’s a remarkably poignant combination that offers up a wealth of sonic textures and moods that will keep you gripped until the last song finishes.
The title track of the album sets the reflective mood that lasts throughout. It’s a beautiful two-chord song with soft bells playing a melody accented by a looping sample of what sounds like creaking floorboards and the constant fall of rain.
The track “Shelter” sounds like a lonely walk home through blowing snow with only the thought of that special someone waiting for your arrival to keep you warm. If you listen closely, in between the hopeful melody of the bells you will hear a winter wind whistling around your head. I don’t think I am wrong to suggest you listen while under a warm blanket for maximum enjoyment.
Finally, for all the boom-bap fans there is “Trying”, a beautifully brief song with the lushest production on the whole album. The layers of textures and sounds in this song are subtle enough to go unnoticed, but to a trained ear it is a true symphony.
With winter just a few short months away the timing of this album feels rather opportune and is sure to be the soundtrack to many chilly commuter mornings. Yet, as much as this effort satisfies a yearning for another chapter in the Chris Keys discography, it also raises the question of what can we expect next out of this artist? After all, every good story needs a good ending.