Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Oslo, Norway-based singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist Arthur Kay. And as you may recall Kay has been a prominent member of his hometown’s music scene for the better part of the past decade as the frontman of of the galactic jazz act Dr. Kay and His Interstellar Tone Scientists and collaborating and touring with Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave.
Key’s self-titled solo debut EP was released earlier this month, and the EP’s material draws from several disparate and rather eclectic influences, at points channeling Thundercat, James Blake, and Sun Ra Arkestra, all while finding the Norwegian singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist boldly stepping into the spotlight. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Holiday Pay,” a thumping, house music-based workers anthem with glistening and twinkling synths, cowbell-led percussion and infectious hook that celebrates socialism and socialist policies — in particular, that Norwegian employers are required by law to pay employees a certain percentage of the previous year’s wages to be used for the employee’s vacation time.
The EP’s second single “Higher Ground” was a slow-burning track that was one part dream pop, one part hallucinogenic dirge and one part shoegaze, as it was centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, Kay’s dreamy crooning and narcoleptic drumming. And while arguably the most peaceful song off the EP, the song was fueled by a sweaty desperation. “Lyrically, it is about the silence and calmness that comes after a big emotional and chaotic event,” Arthur Kay explained in press notes. “Those days or weeks where you feel that if you just put everything in your life on hold, to make it through the next hour without remembering or engaging in those memories, you’ll just barely make it through.”
“Say It Out Loud,” the EP’s third and latest single is a two-step-inducing bit of synth-led dance pop that’s one part Teddy Riley-era New Jack Swing and one part Larry Levan-era house music, as the track is centered around arpeggiated keys and synths, thumping beats, cowbell-led percussion, Kay’s plaintive vocals and a sinuous hook before ending with a shimmering jazz-like. And while focusing on his singular voice, the track manages to reveal Kay’s incredible versatility and dexterous musicianship.