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  • Nathan Yoder

Recommended Listening: Ki Oni - Stay Indoors and Swim

Like so many ambient artists, Chuck Soo-Hoo (who records as Ki Oni) thematically centers much of his music around natural phenomena and living organisms. I mean, just looking over the past year of DC previews and reviews, it seems like every post about an ambient-ish album is thick with river/ocean/tree/flower/blossom imagery. Maybe we need to diversify our toolbox of techniques. But also, to be fair, even two of Ki Oni's recent releases are titled Indoor Plant Life and You Made It out of the Forest Alive. So a connection certainly exists.


And that hints at what is so interesting about Ki Oni's upcoming release on Sound as Language, titled Stay Indoors and Swim. It is a water-centric album, sure, characterized by flowing, twinkling synths. But the "indoors" qualification is just as important here. Floating on our backs, we do not see a cloudless summer sky, but instead a rec center ceiling lined with florescent lights. It is a relaxing scene, though you get the occasional whiff of chlorine. So, Ki Oni elects to blend the natural with the human-made on his new release, twisting a common ambient trope.


Ki Oni, photo provided by Sound as Language.


Soo-Hoo actually grew up working summers as a lifeguard, so he is uniquely qualified to provide a soundtrack to staying indoors and swimming. The album itself is made up of eight tracks ranging between seven and fifteen minutes each. These songs do not rise or sink, but instead rest on a shimmering plane. To conjure the scene described in the previous paragraph, it's as if you are floating on your back, gazing upward, but your ears sit right below the water. Sounds are obscured, muffled. You can't quite tell what is happening poolside, but you are too relaxed to care. It is perfect for warm days ahead, whether you find yourself indoors or out.


Ki Oni's Stay Indoors and Swim will be released on April 23rd, and you can find it on the Sound as Language Bandcamp page linked here. Check out the lead track below, and dream about summer at the pool (or river or lake or ocean). Those days aren't so far away.