Kae Sun — ‘Midnight and Other Endings,’ 4/5

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Kae Sun’s 2018 full-length Whoever Comes Knocking was drawn in broad strokes — abandoning the rock and retro-pop of 2013’s AFRIYIE for throbbing basslines and snaking synth loops. It made for a slick record in a state of constant, pulsing motion. This year’s Midnight and Other Endings EP finds the Ghanaian-born artist in a different mode — where Whoever Comes Knocking surged and jumped, Midnight and Other Endings opts to melt and drip. The five-track EP is more patient and sensual than Sun’s previous work, leaning more heavily into loose grooves and hazy zone-outs.

Things open with “Mass (Intro),” a slow-ticking thaw featuring vocals from Montreal’s Sam I Am Montolla, a fittingly diaphanous introduction to a record that seems to hover in the air like smoke. The EP sees Sun finding a new depth of softness in his writing and delivery, and he sounds exceptionally comfortable in these fluid surroundings. Midnight and Other Endings is quietly lush, adult music, another new shade from an artist accustomed to chameleonic shifts.

The low groove of “Midnight Creepshow” rides slithering bass and a sticky funk guitar line, though the repeated title in the chorus comes off somewhat, well, creepier than perhaps intended. Still, the music itself never breaks the spell, its golden haze of synth and atmosphere softening all the corners. The strongest showcase of Sun’s new direction is “404 Eros,” its gentle smear breaking into a diaphanous funk, growing slightly with each minute.

The penultimate “Bright Lights,” while not the EP’s catchiest or most immediately memorable, is perhaps its most impressive — across four-and-a-half shape-shifting minutes, the song seems to dissolve the gentle grooves of what came before, taking the EP to an entirely weirder and more shapeless place. Its descending synth lines verge on unnerving, and the heat-ping loop that materializes at the 1:30 mark brings weight to Sun’s lyrics about police sirens and cities torn to the ground.

The EP fades out on Vancouver, B.C. artist Debby Friday’s steely-eyed spoken word, her immense gravity pulling all the playfulness of the previous four tracks somewhere deeper and more haunting, a fittingly unsettled end to the night. Kae Sun seems capable of finding room in just about any sound and, with Midnight and Other Endings, he sounds as at home as ever.