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Electric guitars. I love them.
I love them best when they sound like they are playing themselves. When they start to feed back, drone and scratch. When they seem to escape from the fingers of whoever is playing and take on a life of their own.
So Kinski are right up my alley. They're from Seattle, and might be described as post-minimalist-post-grunge-easy listening. They're a rock band but they don't have a singer. They have clear influences from classical post-modern composers like Steve Reich.
They like to start with, for example, some chunky Sabbaff-style riffing ("Hot Stenographer") and then evolve into something more out there that screws around with your brain. "Hot Stenographer" ends with a section of continuous beats where four time evolves into three and two without you understanding why. You end up feeling giddy. In a good way.
This CD, Kinski's second, is full of good and simple ideas. "The Wives of Artie Shaw" could be a Pixies B side and is tight and punchy. "The Party Which You Know Will Be Heavy" rolls along until some raw fretboard scrapes ratchet up the tension before a final headbanging conclusion. The free form freak out on "Passed Out On Your Lawn" does go on a bit, but it's the only blemish.
"All Your Kids Have Turned to Static" is a brief respite - a gentle duet between flute and guitar that sounds like it was recorded on someone's lawn in San Francisco in 1968. It gives you a breather before the nine minute constantly ascending heroic epic of "The Snowy Parts Of Scandinavia" (which are the unsnowy parts? Denmark I suppose). It features a deliciously ugly guitar solo. This track and the nine minute "Edge Set" are both so good they could have come from Sonic Youth's last album.
It's true that many of Kinski's ideas are not new. But they execute them well. This a well sequenced, clever, tasteful, intelligent and solid album. --Nick Reynolds
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Top Customer Reviews
The first track is a bit misleading. It kicks off with Sabbath-made-more-concise guitars but ends on a single note repeated over two hundred times. In the main the rest of the album falls between these extremes.
The Wives of Artie Shaw is one for fans of early Sonic Youth to check out: all fuzz and dissonance.
Hiding Drugs in the Temple (Part 2) is driving, distorted, repetitive and reminiscent of Bristol mind-expansion crew The Heads, though I bet Kinski, like most of us, have never heard of them (and to think that they were endorsed by Mark Arm and Jello Biafra, no less!)
The Party Which You Know Will be Heavy is all over the place. It begins quietly and delicately; extra instruments are added one by one; the volume level rises a little and then BOOM: a maelstrom of screaming guitars is unleashed. There follows a series of strange scraping and plucking noises, a variation on the original melody and a delicate ending.
Passed Out on Your Lawn follows spaced out, echoing guitar (I'm trying to avoid the frowned-upon word "stoner") with the shrill noises you get if you spin the frequency dial on short wave radio, before calming proceedings down with what sound like whale noises overlaying a deathly hum. You know it makes sense.
So far, so good, but the quieter guitar and melancholic flute on Track 6 provide welcome relief all the same.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is Kinski's best balanced effort yet, and without vocals, the chance for Alpine Static to waft over your own array of moods makes this a perfect companion for the open road. A title like "Passed Out on the Lawn" runs the gamut of emotions while it makes you project your own storyline upon the sonic variations presented. Songs take their time to rumble and roam; it's reminiscent of Mahler at times in its restless, epic, scope.
At times it recalls the suitably named Swervedriver with its relentless but tuneful insistence, often Kyuss and the stoner rock blasted from the Californian parched plains a decade ago, and throughout the steady, hypnotic movement of Neu. It's less assaultive than Comets on Fire, and more akin to a cross between the bands inspired by loud-soft heavy dynamics and those longing to re-create the inner moods that you feel when zooming up the highway into places long awaited to be glimpsed for the first time.
There's some great loose riffage on Hiding Drugs and Edge Set, and I love the way the album evolves; the second half is more stretched out and relaxed, so that the barrage of the first half doesn't make you uptight or seem forced. Waka Nusa is calm and lovely, and makes for a nice, gentlepersonly exit (and really fits the graphic elements of the album too, the Pacific NW woods photos, grasslands, etc.).
Alpine Static is all about Kinski turning old ideas on their heads and trying new things. At the same time, you can tell that they're having fun in the process, and not trying too hard to break with the past or efface their identity or anything. This is the Kinski album I reach for most often. It will make you feel good, good, good. 4++ stars.
Although not quite as ambient...or perhaps rambling? as their first Sub Pop release, Alpine Static's tracks are more consistently driven by harder riffs. Live, it is readily apparent that this slight shift in focus loses none of the intensity of the buildups and climaxes that this band can so skillfully construe; Hot Stenographer being only one of many such tracks. But there is more to be had from this album than just that. Serenity, experimentalism, intoning, and just plain static all have their say here. Go see them live. If one finds none of that pleasing, for what it's worth, the album is aesthetically pleasing with lots of cardboard and pretty photos.
Kinski continues the progression of their musical maturation. And the result is a trip well worth taking.