Kiva - Pulse (Independent)
Multi-instrumentalist Kiva is an aural alchemist with a soft touch and near perfect instincts: two qualities that come to define the atmospheric world beat flow of her sophomore effort Pulse. Skilled in the art of harmonic overtone singing, a striking technique in which two or more pitches are produced simultaneously, Kiva reveals a penchant for lush, ethereal pageantry, shorn (thankfully) of any and all starry-eyed indulgence. Her dreamy, colourful compositions, ever percolating with polyrhythmic percussion, are smart, soulful and affecting. Of particular note is the Qawwali-tinged "Morning Dew Ragu", a startling display which comes off like Jane Siberry trading sinewy sonic improv jabs with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. At once familiar and otherworldly (due in large part to her occasional "vocables," or imaginary language), Pulse surges in wave after wave of sheer textural bliss as cascading walls of vocal fluency cry, swoon and surprise amid a subtle swell of jazz, pop, Klezmer, Celtic, Caribbean and Cajun trimmings.
Reviewer: Steve Baylin
Evolution of Media
The United States might be becoming more musically non-productive. I say this because as of late, all the great records that have been submitted to 'Evolution Of Media' has been music from various countries around the world. The one country that is leading the pack with the next new breed of creative musicians is Canada. In the last year or so, we have heard astonishing work from Redux, Todd Hunter, and The Wyrd Sisters. I would like to introduce to you know another Canadian artist by the name of Kiva. Kiva is a World musician/vocalist, whose choice of expression challenges the money machine of the industry and compliments the true art form we call music, and has released her second CD entitled Pulse. Someone said that Kiva was a cross between Bobby McFerrin and Jane Siberry. I can see that, but I also hear Bjork and Enya also. Just listen to 'The Incident', it could have easily been recorded for Bjork's Medusa CD.
Kiva's vocals are purely unique, despite all the comparisons that are being said about this lady, Kiva is a force to be reckoned with. For one good week Pulse was the only CD I could listen to as I commuted to the office. What I found great about Pulse is that the vocal textures and the harmonic overtoning is so soothing that it doesn't shock your system but intense enough that it doesn't make you want to crawl back in a warm bed and go back to sleep, it repeatly holds your attention song after song. I am proud to say I'm a fan now of Kiva and Pulse is a very hip/cool CD on the World music tip. Music lover, if you dig cultural sounds like Latin, African, East Indian, Cajun, Klezmer and Caribbean you will need Pulse. If you are fascinated by compelling vocal textures and just looking for something refreshing then experience Pulse.
Uptown Magazine, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
"Kiva is the performing name of Kathy Brown, a multi-faceted instrumentalist who's probably best known for her work as touring keyboardist with Crash Test Dummies. But that experience barely scratched the surface of this woman's wellspring of influences and talents. Kiva is an overtone singer, capable of producing two pitches at once- the sort of thing heard at Folk Festivals as performed by the Tuvan throat singers. She's also a multi-instrumentalist of impressive skill and a writer capable of moulding all her interests- from jazz to world beat to pop to folk to classical- into a seamless whole. Pulse is Kiva's second album and certainly her most fully realized, creating a polyrhythmic, multi-syllabic world in which melody and rhythm become one and compositions (for these are not 'songs' in the pop sense) are ethereal, magical, guttural and entrancing all at once. With Dan Donahue producing and the likes of Rhys Fulber, Nii Tettey Tetteh, Richard Moody, Rodrigo Munoz and Bill Spornitz guesting, this is a gathering of pure sonic creators- all held together by Kiva's inimitable spirit."
Reviewer: John Kendle
Styling the Stereo
Style Manitoba Magazine
"Skim the surface of PULSE, the second release of KIVA, and you might hear only New Age textures- the massed wordless voices, the intimations of other cultures' music. What separates her from the usual dream syndicate is her two-handed musicality as a keyboard player, and a jazz intuition that informs in unexpected ways. 'Serendipity Doodah', for one, finds her trading smart solos on piano and accordion. 'Morning Dew Ragu' offers only one example of her sixth sense for delicious chord changes. She developed most of the music on her own from the keyboards, but cameos appear judiciously, and a variety of percussionists both shape and drive the music."
Reviewer: Randall McIlroy
Penguin Eggs Magazine
"As a member of The Wyrd Sisters, and the Crash Test Dummies ’94 tour, this is Kiva’s second solo disc (the first being 1998’s The Ladder). Kiva is a harmonic overtone singer (sometimes known as throat singing), where two different pitches are produced simultaneously by a single voice. Shamanic in origin, it has been popularized by groups from The Republic of Tuva (Central Asia). Kiva has studied this art in Tuva, England and Colorado and has attended several international festivals and symposiums. Incorporating her own innovations to the style, and influenced by such diverse artists as Bulgarian women’s choirs, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Bobby McFerrin, Sting and Jane Siberry, Kiva has forged a highly individual music with her pop and jazz-influenced keyboard playing, overlaid with third world percussion. The style is highly personal, yet global in scope and tone. If you think along the vague lines of Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, or Lisa Gerrard from the Gladiator soundtrack and Dead Can Dance, you get the general direction. Unusual and interesting."
World Discoveries, Los Angeles, CA
"Any singer who cites 1950s icon Yma Sumac as an influence certainly deserves a listen: if you're not familiar with Ms.Sumac, she sang wordless vocals in various exotic settings with a voice that defied belief and a range that covered several octaves. Kiva doesn't have that mind-blowing range, but she does have a mind-boggling set of vocal chops and a very broad knowledge of many styles of music, including classical, jazz, pop, R&B, Tuvan throat singing, and East Indian classical (i.e. Ravi Shankar).
I also hear West African, folk and pop, Sheila Chandra, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor, 1960s avant guard jazz/vocal, and too many others to list. Besides the many musical influences she lists, Kiva is also a keyboardist. If there's any one person who deserves the title of world music diva, Kiva is it.
The music on PULSE ranges all over the world and even into outer/inner space, such as one of her instrumental influences Pink Floyd. Of course, this could be a problem with Kiva: finding greater acceptance. Music buyers like to categorize or pigeonhole things: it gives them something to relate the music to. Even Yma Sumac, now labeled the queen of exotica, kept one theme throughout each album, exposing aspects of that theme on each tune.
Kiva, on the other hand, slips from one idea or music type frequently throughout PULSE; not just from tune to tune, but often within a song. This takes tremendous skill and musical knowledge, but leaves the listener lost: PULSE is not a spiritual album, not a dance record, not a representation of any ethnic group or country.... so what is it? Well, one of the greatest recordings of vocal prowess and diversity by one singer ever made, that's for sure!"
The Muse's Muse
"Harmonic Overtoning. In case you haven't heard of it, it is the ability to sing in two pitches at once. Kiva does this, as well as a great deal of general vocalizing - vocal expressions of emotion & lyric, sometimes called vocables. With these skills, she sets about writing songs that incorporate her unique voice and vision of entertaining world music. What she comes up with is very interesting, especially when her vocals serve the music or become the music that serves the song. Her style ranges from (approaching) new age to light jazz and easy listening, with world influences including Latin, African, East Indian, Caribbean, and even a little Klezmer! Generally, the songs are short & sweet, leaving each with it's special vibe and not overdoing it. Although her voice is very interesting and entertaining, I dare say too much of anything isn't always desired and Kiva wisely knows how and when to use her impressive range.
Only four songs contain lyrics, the rest are vocalizations, and I think I heard Kermit the Frog make a brief appearance on 'In The Flesh'! I don't know if laughter is a desired result, but Kiva should take heart to know I was smiling with her all the way. The vocable tracks still strive to contain hooks and patterns, which are well thought out and add the interest that most traditional 'catchy' songs do. Musically there is percussion throughout, but Kiva's voice really does create the pulse of each track, blending with the tabla or other percussive instrument being used. Overall, Kiva creates music that is very light and easy to listen to, emanating from a voice that projects everything from sound and tone to melody and intrumentation all on it's own. A unique brand of sound for sure."
Reviewer: Steve Allat
“Kiva is an artist of rare vision and talent, whose music transcends both musical and geographic boundaries.”
- Richard Fenton, Artistic Director, Winnipeg Folk Festival
“Kiva’s voice is sweet, powerful, innocent, exotic…Her lyrics are stirring and full of rich imagery, touching your senses and deepest emotions.”
- Bill MacLean, Beach Metro Community News, Toronto
- Rosie Levine, NOW magazine, Toronto
“A unique treatment of overtones, which grounds them in sensuality.”
-Tim Wilson, producer, VISION TV
“Along with her muscular and evocative vocal style… her craft of song writing is highly evolved.”
- Graham Shaw, composer, Juno award winner
“In my search for the right type of music to help me reach this meditative state, I have come across an artist whose music speaks to an ancient part of my soul.”
- Sandra Butel, Artistic Director, Regina Folk Festival
“The most eclectic performer”
- Regina Leader Post
“A star is born.”
- Bob Wiseman, singer/songwriter
"Children should be seen and not heard."
- Uncle Johnny