Kinski/Paik/Surface of Eceon
Crickets and Fireflies
Writing reviews for Ink 19 has shown me how little emphasis I place on lyrical importance when listening to music. Musicianship and melody are more likely to catch my ear than a not-so-cleverly-turned phrase. This being the case, it stands to reason that a split release by three burgeoning instrumental post-rock bands would be right up my alley.
Kinski, probably the most well known of the three, takes hold of the disc first with “Keep Clear of Me, I am Maneuvering With Difficulty.” With only four members, it’s surprising how wide an array of sounds their contribution manages to capture. The first eight minutes hang like jet exhaust over rusted towers. Meaning: they do an excellent job of building Godspeed You! Black Emperor ambiance, but the crescendo release, while driving and screeching, fails to give the song a more cohesive shape. It feels like Kinski angry up the air for seven minutes, only to settle back into a soporific drone because it’s what is expected of them. This is good background music, but more attention to structure would demand more attention from the listener.
Paik is the person stranded out on the wet tarmac to Kinski’s aural cloudbank. Their first contribution, “Spanish Holiday” opens with a reverb hum of processed guitars suggesting more of a lyric-less shoegazer band than the standard post-rock fare. Drums are not only present throughout, they take a starring role, giving the song the body Kinski’s track lacked. The circular bass riffs extend out from the monotonous walls of guitar to wrap around the listener, lulling and guiding them straight into “Eva,” Paik’s second track. For lack of a better term, this is indie new age. It’s the most peaceful six minutes on the album up to this point. It’s built around a sweetly weeping backwards guitar loop, brushed cymbals and tape hiss. It feels like an appropriate come down from the previous song’s high.
Surface of Eceon close out the disc with the epic “Concert of Stars.” Quiet and distant, yet pulsing with a heartbeat’s insistence, it could almost be the pounding inside an astronaut’s head as they get their first, unfettered look at the Earth from miles above it. There is a genuine tone of bliss in the chiming guitars of this track that is missing from the two previous stratospherically challenged bands. It’s great to lie back, close your eyes and listen to, but at thirty minutes, the song is too long and too lacking in any real change in tempo or instrumentation to sustain itself (or the listener) for its entirety.
In the end, this sort of collection can either be viewed as a blessing or a curse. Being limited to only one or two songs can limit a band’s capability to convey the totality of their sound. That being said, all three of these bands still seem to be searching for the sounds that suit them best, and each of their individual strengths complements another band’s relative weakness. While none of these bands have reached Godspeed’s level of brilliance yet, all three of them have the potential to do so.