Don’t Climb on and Take the Holy Water

Strange Attractors

So the story goes like this: Kinski, on their way toward monopolizing the impressionist-German-filmmaker-as-band-name spectrum of rock culture, occasionally adopt the moniker Herzog when they feel like opting for low key improvisation rather than their usual monolithic space drone marathons. The band contends that the name change is necessary to prevent Kinski “rock” fans from being disappointed by a “non-rock” show. I, however, would offer a smack to the head of any of these detractors, because Don’t Climb on and Take the Holy Water is fantastic.

“Herzog” Kinski’s most effective differentiating element is Matthew Reid-Schwartz’s flute. It adds the subtlest East Asian tinge to the minimal but oddly dense canopy created by Lucy Atkinson’s bass and organ and Chris Martin’s effects-laden guitar. The resulting jungle-at-night sound works as an organic antithesis to Kinski’s traditional black hole maw musings. That said, tracks like “Bulky Knit Cheerleader Sweater” and, to a lesser extent, “Crepes the Cheap” flirt with harsher, more conventional noise rock dynamics. I don’t mean to impugn the quality of these tracks, because they’re top notch, but they are thankfully short lived in relation to the disc’s centerpiece, “The Misprint in the Gutenberg Print Shop.” On this song, Kinski finally explores the relationship between quiet and loud, melody and dissonance, at an appropriate depth. Its nearly unparalleled sprawling is both achingly lovely and slightly intimidating, doing for humid jungles what Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western scores did for arid deserts.

This is such good stuff that I’m very hopeful Kinski treats these experiments as learning experiences and integrates the project’s looser style into their future compositions and improvised work. Until that happens, I’ll be much more excited to see “Herzog” venturing out on tour than I will be for Kinski.

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