Duos are proving prominent in the 2019 alternative R&B landscape. From Canada’s DVSN and Majid Jordan to America’s Chloe x Halle, VanJess and THEY., the double-act formula, whether coincidental or intentional, appear to be sprouting every other month.
In the UK, The KTNA are the latest act to join this canvas. Comprised of twins Hope and Millie Katana, the pair have been working on their sound for the last couple of years, transitioning from acting (Waterloo Road, Clash) to a fully fledged music debut. Garnering attention from the likes of both Jorja Smith and Maverick Sabre, KTNA unveil their first EP 'Life Under Siege'.
The simplicity of production marinades each of 'Life Under Siege’s numbers, marking a clear-sonic direction. Drawing parallels to Alicia Keys’ sense of minimalism in song construction across her discography, KTNA’s approach feels instantly refreshing and provides the ideal pallet for both vocal depths and ranges to be explored and fundamentally shine.
‘MBD’ for instance, features a simple arrangement of guitar notes, both members therefore, are given a platform to showcase their deep range and rich runs; it’s almost as if KTNA have been professionally trained, as they seem meticulous in their enunciation throughout.
Although very clean in their use of instruments, 'Life Under Siege' still manages to maintain the listeners attention throughout as there’s a fair distribution of both ballads and mid-tempos. ‘The Bottom’ in particular stands out as a bouncy, stripped back number that’s vintage yet appealing to younger audiences. The constant repetition of “You don’t listen,” across both the chorus and ad-libs, feel reminiscent of millennial phone-conversations and reality TV show subplots.
Further, the passion and grit displayed by the Katana-twins, emphasise their ability to engage and invite wider-audiences into their universe. Ultimately, the acts most compelling quality is their remarkably packaged feel. On an introductory project, KTNA manage to convince the world that they are seasoned, industry heavy weights.
Their confident approach to story-telling and awareness of who they are shines through loud and clear. As the EP rounds up, they boast “You can’t catch me I’m a free man” throughout the penultimate track 'DJANGO'. Although part of a wider song, the pair are controlled and edgy, employing the use of questioning, onomatopoeia and instrumental diversity that coagulates their arrival.
Conceptually, KTNA are tackling the struggles of being black and political consequences of this here. Referencing bodies being hung, the deeper side of their discography to date is realised. Across strong violin and electric-guitar runs, both captivate the listener in quite a different fashion here paying homage to historical consequences.
KTNA are a refreshing addition to the UK landscape, 'Life Under Siege' is unapologetic, thundering and heartfelt. Littered in a majestic encapsulant, the listener is left instantly wanting more. Finally, the incorporation of wider-genres such as light-rock and soul give the R&B-heavy EP the diversity needed to stand-out.
Words: Nicolas Tyrell
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