Stylistically Transcendent, The Philharmonik’s Odyssean Epic Churns on through New Album, ‘Kironic’
Evan Dale // Aug 15, 2023
The Philharmonik is an enigma. There’s never been any sense in trying to define just what it is that Sacramento multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer, songwriter, and rapper does because, quite frankly, we run out of breath every time we try. So, at its simplest, he’s a musician crafting aesthetically broad sounds infused with positive and inspirational message. He’s a sonic transcendentalist whose adherence to funky, soulful, groovy analogues and the occasional upbeat digital beat has made him a tour-de-grey-area-force musically navigating different eras, yet so very presently minded. His self-titled debut album from 2018 introduced the meandering, maneuvering waves that would render nearly any other artist lost at sea. But for The Philharmonik, who feverishly creates and oversees every step of his music from ideation and conception to production and mastering, his is a command and control over the process that allows safe passage through whichever unpredictable waters he chooses to weather. 60’s Soul, 70’s Rock, 80’s Funk, 90’s R&B, and timeless raps were his many cornerstones five years ago when his debut felt bold, unwavering, and unapologetically unique. And five years later, that’s exactly where his music still stands, albeit sharpened in every way - which is saying a lot for an artist that has always had the calming, creative nature of a veteran.
Kironic is a ten-track, half-hour long album tethering the continued evolution of The Philharmonik’s countless sounds akin with an even more defined space for positive stories and self-aware relatability to drive it all forward. And to make it even more vivid, he’s on his way into releasing each track - each chapter - of the album, as a cohesive multi-part short film.
So, What’s It All Mean? Starting with Kironic’s true opening track, the project is here to help anyone listening navigate the broad swatch of unpredictability that life throws at them these days, with the kind of meandering sonic transcendentalism that can only be sourced from a mosaic of other epochs and eras, in a way no other artist could independently muster so modernly. Lost in Translation (Neon Lights Pt. II) doesn’t only pay homage and continue the soulful, funky landscape of one of his debut project’s many standout tracks; it’s also a deeply anthemic, cinematic exhibition of 70’s and 80’s funk nuance that feels as though it could only have been piped in from one of those 13-piece, colorfully tasseled ensembles through an oversaturated TV. The dynamism of his instrumental and vocal prowess, all brought together with an unparalleled knack for layering and production, grants Kironic’s vast timelessness even more filmic fuel.
Overtop a downbeat, funk-ridden composition on Issues, The Philharmonik continues fusing the musically vast with the thematically focused on understated, positivist visions. After a bodacious guitar-heavy rock intro to get the lead out, Some Piece of Mind becomes an anthem of overcoming. Via some intangible late 80’s and early 90’s R&B nuance, complete with some rising chords and watery synth strokes, Chasing… emerges as the album’s quintessential slow jam of emotional vulnerability best served with white wine. Shoot My Shot is a silky, sultry babymaker, hinging on consent of course, and drowning in basketball metaphors, somehow all without feeling forced or cheesy. And Katch Me, a floaty, digital feel-good soundtrack, shines yet another new light on The Philharmonik’s range, vocally gliding across the electronically nuanced, Kaytranada reminiscent, electrosoul jam into effervescent bliss. And there are more.
So much range, and so little time, The Philharmonik defies the very idea of stylistic adherence with each and every track of Kironic, ultimately emerging as an exhibition of the evolution of a sound that seemed impossible to maintain, let alone expand upon, when he first introduced us to it in 2018. And yet, Kironic explores range without preference for one sound or another, seamlessly entangling the vast epochal nuances he’s sourced from musical spaces past and present, while pushing anyone listening to thoughtfully consider the future. An anthemic exploration of our time, and of the times come and gone, The Philharmonik - with Kironic - is still one of the most underappreciated artistic forces in a post-genre era of grey-area exploration, gliding smoothly through a barrage of sounds and themes to grant us something as thought-provoking and experimental as it is downright danceable and sexy. No matter what it is you like, you’ll love something - if not everything - about this album, and about what The Philharmonik stands for in an era of oft-shallow and short-sided artistry.