“I loved the pre-title music on a lot of those 80’s U.S. TV shows.” Recalls Kenny Inglis, the man behind cinematic, electronic act Imperfect Stranger, “From the family orientated stuff like The A-Team,” he continues, “to darker dramas such as The Equalizer. My mother would let me stay up to watch the opening sequence of the latter then send me to bed because the story would be too heavy for a kid. That left me with this hanging sense of ambiguity as to what would happen in that hour after the titles came up.”
This idea of atmosphere and suspense through music impacted the young Kenny and would later inform his career as an award winning composer for TV, Films, and video games.
Through previous incarnations such as Cinephile and Spylab, Kenny explored downtempo and trip-hop edged compositions, often utilising guest vocalists. Kenny’s unerring ear for melodic and cascading soundscapes infuse his work with punch and darker, harder-edged sounds. His music soundtracks drama, no matter which incarnation he is inhabiting and this is clearly evident with his latest project, Imperfect Stranger. Everything Wrong is Right, his debut solo release in July 2022 on the Castles in Space imprint, is a collage of swirling sonics balanced with sharp production and layered arrangements, allowing the heady textures to seep like paint into each other, blurring the lines between instruments. The electronics burn with luminescent intensity throughout, the diffused sounds all at once woozy and propulsive, seemingly swirling in ever-decreasing hypnotic circles.
Everything Wrong is Right is a widescreen epic; right from the off we are hurtling towards the expanding horizon with increasing power and intensity. Opener “Moment of Impact” is a taste of what’s to come, brooding, intense, deep and dark with a menacing sequencer refrain acting as an invitation into this beautiful, beguiling, and darkening world Kenny has created for us to explore. There is certainly a dream-like sheen and dead-of-night eeriness suggested and this unfolds before us through fourteen tracks.
Everything Wrong is Right is a journey through musical expression, encapsulating the essence of his previous works and distilling the processes and visions that have born so many incredible releases.
“A Different Quiet”, “Bird Of Prey”, and “Dog In The Rain” are seemingly infused with a sense of nostalgia and longing, a harkening back to half-remembered moments rendered in blurry images and the purest beauty of sound and movement. It is a dizzying and incredibly moving feeling, one that pierces the very essence of our personal heritages. Kenny’s gift is to draw you in as the listener, to envelop you and re-ignite those long-dormant emotions either forgotten or suppressed. It is this skill of weaving dark and compelling tapestries that gives his compositions a narrative flow through densely layered sounds.
This is a masterclass in mood and atmosphere. Texture is everything. This is Kenny’s soundtrack to a movie that exists only in his head and we are invited aboard the train and take the ride through the forest of his psyche and this is where we start to realise that this album has a concept. Now, concept albums aren’t new, the 70s was replete with them, however they seemed to be the sole preserve of prog rock posturing. Kenny Inglis as Imperfect Stranger has taken this idea and approached it from an almost metaphysical standpoint. Everything Wrong is Right is in his own words, “an authentic narrative”. Kenny goes on, “I don’t write tracks for the sake of writing. I write tracks to diarise and process the stuff that I’ve lived through, and the experiences that have come along with the passing years. That’s what makes me tick. It’s a very public and vulnerable way of expressing myself. If people want to know the real me, all they have to do is listen.”
“Hymn To The Sun” and “Never Enough” are lands of fleeting shadows, of slow-breathing beats, multifaceted production, lush and enveloping keyboards and melodies that intertwine and mingle throughout the cavernous-deep atmospherics. Kenny displays an almost supernatural mastery of his material giving us so many moments, each so real, and so compelling that we are revealed in their truths.
As we approach “Changing State” the emotional tone is shifting, the darkness dissipates and the uplifting strings suggest hope. It is as if emerging from the claustrophobic canopy of trees and into the beckoning light. It is impossible not to be moved by the title track “Everything Wrong is Right”, it is dream-infused, intoxicating and utterly bewitching; the strings elevate the track to empyrean pinnacles, arcing with near-unbearable emotional resonance.
Closer “Exit/Exist” is a beautiful coda, “I wanted the final track to simply be an expression of finding your deserved path, finding your freedom,” explains Kenny (I Heart Noise January 2023), “It’s a reflection on how we live and endure, process and progress. It’s about shutting the door on one section of your life, in order to move forward into another.”
Everything Wrong is Right reveals more of itself with each listen; we discover fragility and hope, despair and strength, and we are taken on this journey of exploration, growth, introspection and eventually re-birth. The album grows with each play, more secrets are revealed and the emotional resonance chimes louder.
Investigate Imperfect Stranger‘s sound further and you will be rewarded with music that gives up more each time you play it. It evolves and grows becoming more than its component parts, this is Kenny’s real talent, his ability to create evolving music and sound, to breath life into the digital spheres of the dramatic, cinematic electronic music he composes.
Everything Wrong is Right is available via the Imperfect Stranger Bandcamp page as a digital download.