Airs Above Your Station
It takes three minutes for Kinski to lay a single note atop the hollow, lunar organ chords that open Airs Above Your Station, the band’s first album with Sub Pop; and, it takes them at least another two minutes to throw themselves into a lurching metal guitar line. There’s a parallel here with the CD itself: Airs requires the proportional equivalent to get moving, which it finally does on track three, “Rhode Island Freakout,” a driving rock jam in which Lucy Atkinson mumbles her vocals through the thick, Brillo-like guitar, aping Goo and Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth songs that featured Kim Gordon doing the same. True, the first single, “Semaphore,” is sandwiched between the first and third tracks, but even this tends to drift (albeit rather pleasurably) for most of its running time.
Strangely, though, and much to the album’s detriment, Kinski soon retreats from its sonic assault, with only intermittent and thoroughly predictable flashes (“Your Lights Are (out or) Burning Badly,” “Waves of Second Guessing”). This results in a strange lack of substance that could have been avoided with a bit more complexity during the extended lulls.
Airs is arguably the most polished (in a production sense) Kinski album to date, and maybe even their most accessible to the uninitiated. But it also shows that Kinski hasn’t moved a fraction of an inch beyond what was offered on their last release, Be Gentle with the Warm Turtle (2001), or even as far back as Space Launch for Frenchie (1999). It’s all too much like a fumbling Pink Floyd tribute, continually reaching a point where the psychedelica fails to follow up with the required kick, allowing the whole fragile structure to collapse into self-indulgence and bathetic kitsch. Consider the meandering “I Think I Blew It” – beautiful, but utterly pointless. And insult is added to injury when the song is awarded a three-minute reprise.
Kinski’s blend of post-, math- and space- rock will satisfy weaker appetites, but the disappointing lack of innovation makes each successive release seem more and more like a light snack. For the band not to disappear after their next full-length, they will have to create something more than this. Attending a few live gigs headlined by fellow Seattle band Voyager One might be a good place to start.