Kim Krans transforms the spiritual into meditative pop

Kim Krans. Photo via publicist.


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Before Kim Krans landed on The New York Times bestseller list with her tarot deck The Wild Unknown, the visual artist, spiritual teacher, and author was a musician creating fuzzy psychedelic folk and nostalgic garage rock in bands like Love As Laughter and Family Band. But after bouncing around the Pacific Northwest indie-folk scene, there came a time when she decided to trade in the chaos of tour life for the quiet solace of spirituality; meditation became her calling for a decade as she learned Kundalini and Classical Hatha yoga and studied under shamans from Europe, India, and Africa.

In February, the Los Angeles-based artist returned with her magical solo debut, MIRRORMIRROR. An otherworldly dark pop record recorded with My Morning Jacket’s Kevin Ratterman, MIRRORMIRROR combines languid melodies, and hypnosis-inducing rhythmic loops, with striking textures and soothing background harmonies through the layering of Krans’ voice, reciting protective chants and mantras.

Reminiscent of a collaboration between Enya, Molly Nilsson, and a deck of oracle cards, every song feels like it’s plucked from another plane of existence. “Spinning Sun” is lush goth pop while “Yes” is imbued with a misty balladry. On “Dead Stars,” Krans cloaks her balladry in fog before achieving a transcendent beauty on “Golden Tears.” The album’s standout is the opener, “Sister,” a blissful psychedelic gem that’s hypnotic to the point where you almost don’t realize Krans is gently rehearsing divine archetypes and mystic symbolism, alongside the Akal Mahakal, a protective manta that’s meant to assuage fear of the finite and definitive endings.

In less competent hands, the esoteric lyricism and references to planets, mysticism, and yogic chants would be a recipe for an off-puttingly “woo woo” New Age project powered by the trendiness of spirituality. But MIRRORMIRROR’s has a sincerity and a magnetism to carry you away from the stressors of everyday life and put them in a broader, even cosmic, context.

After all, you can’t ignore how many of these spoken elements — the calm chanting, the hushed humming, the murmured mantras — contribute to the underlying rhythmic thrum that makes MIRRORMIRROR so bewitching. Because the core of Krans’ record isn’t as eerie or enigmatic as it may seem: It’s simply a meditation on letting go, where each song acts as its own pensive prayer.