Kinski - Alpine Static (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Alpine Static (2005)

Sub Pop

I'll be honest, it's really pretty rare for me to find an instrumental band I don't dig. I may be a sucker for it, or maybe 98% of bands with that description just really are that good at what they do. Sub Pop's Kinski, though, they separate themselves from the pack. Be that for the best or the worst is up to your discretion. Taking a fairly unconventional route as far as post-rock bands are concerned, Kinski go to some pretty far lengths to incorporate psychedelic grooves and walls of fuzz and feedback into their songs.

What results is a band seemingly caught amidst the struggle of an identity crisis. It's often unclear what direction they're venturing off to, but if nothing else, the journey is a real interesting one. The band works off dynamic shifts similar to Mogwai, but also incorporates some dissonant post-punk leanings and woodwind instrumentation. The latter isn't a very large part of the recording, though it is present on the low-key, morose sounding "All Your Kids Have Turned to Static." The band definitely show their better half when they leave the psychedelic freakouts at the door. It's not a detractor, so to speak, but the reverb on songs like "The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia" could have just as easily been left off for better results. What starts with a great, down-tempo harmony that builds as the song goes on is all washed away by the reverb that takes the song to its end. It's keeping with the stoner rock feel that was established way early on, and while it's alright for a while, some of these songs are upwards of seven, eight, and nine minutes, so it does tend to grate on the nerves.

But when it works, it works well.

To their credit, when Kinski is firing on all cylinders, they're able to use the long song lengths to the utmost, and "The Party Which You Know Will Be Heavy" is great proof of such. It starts out with some clean chord progressions that raise in volume until some spacey, distorted guitars and a solid drum beat kick in, again progressively increasing in volume, but the same melodic parts that carried the song in also take it out. If nothing else, it seems like a bit of a disappointment; what seemed like the possibility for a great crescendo died before anything ever really took flight. That's actually a problem for a good portion of this record. There's tons of great ideas presented by interesting sounds, dynamics, and rhythms, but none of it actually stays with you. "Hot Stenographer" tries its best to throw some solid instrumentation around, but a few flaws take over what was a truly promising effort. The song has some great, cascading, rise and fall rhythms and a fuzzy wall of sound, but towards the end of the song the same note drones on for over thirty seconds, becoming nothing short of incredibly annoying.

Kinski are talented musicians with an ample number of new ideas to try out, the only issue being how well those ideas actually work. Many times, they have a hard go at keeping the fluidity of both individual song and the album itself. That said, not a bad effort, but the band could do better things.