Analog Adventures: Isolation

Kali Uchis




About the Artist

Kali Uchis is a Colombian American artist that likes to play with genres. She cites 1960s doo-wop, soul, and R&B as her biggest influences, and mixes these genres well with Latin pop. Growing up, she learned to play piano and saxophone in her high school jazz band. These influences carry over into her music career. Uchis vocal abilities are ever present, the smoky rasp is under control regardless of the song. The atmosphere in her music exudes the same mood one would expect from a hot summer night in Miami, full of neon lights and fast cars.

The Record Itself.

Isolation is the debut album by Kali Uchis. Her inspiration casts a wide net, catching everything from reggaeton, hip-hop, and bossa nova. Unlike other music that feels derivative and uninspired when beckoning the past, Uchis manages to make her music feel new and timely while still being clearly rooted in the classics. Flight 22 is a smooth R&B ballad that checks all the boxes for a timeless sound; reverberating guitar, orchestral backing, and outstanding production values. The song conjures up images of Italian romance films from the mid-century but remains perfectly modern.

“Live fast and never die, I’m moving at the speed of light. I’ll take your money, raise the price. Blow up the spot like dynamite” – Kali Uchis, Miami

While Uchis stands out as a solo performer, the features are truly special. Miami features rapper BIA, who delivers a rapid-fire verse on top of the smooth backing track. Tyrant features Jorja Smith with her distinct English accent over top a reggaeton inspired beat. The contrast between Uchis and Smith plays together to create a sum greater than the parts. One of the best parts of the album is the bilingual lyrics on several tracks. Nuestro Planeta is completely in Spanish and features reggaeton rapper Reykon. The best feature on an album full of great guests takes place on After the Storm. Bootsy Collins and Tyler, the Creator take the elegant track and decorate it with funk and hip-hop flair.

The rear cover, insert, and the record itself.

Physically Speaking

Blue hues dominate this album. The cover features a blue fabric as the backdrop with Uchis wearing a red outfit. The cover has a film-like quality, analog imperfection that is often imitated through digital manipulation. The photos are also reminiscent of mid-century pinups, again adding to her distinct aesthetic. Uchis is a beautiful person and the photographs along with artistic makeup emphasize her amazing appearance. Much like Uchis herself, the record is gorgeous. The opaque blue color of the vinyl mimics the deep blue cloth present on the cover of the record.

Is it Worth It?

Pop music is subjective to the period in which it is produced, but occasionally an artist comes around to create completely timeless music. The key to this is understanding the past but not borrowing exclusively from it. Kali Uchis is an intelligent songwriter and an auteur all her own. Isolation is a record jam packed with hit after hit, all unique yet tonally consistent. The average price for this record is in the $20 range, and absolutely worth adding to any diverse collection.

Outstanding Tracks

  • Flight 22
  • Tyrant
  • Killer

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Jose Diaz

Collector of analog media.

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