Kinski - “Airs Above Your Station”
(Sub Pop 2003, SPCD 620, LP version released on Strange Attractors Audio House)
From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
Seattle space rockers Kinski return with their third full-length, and what an album it is! I haven’t had the chance to hear their other releases so this was my first exposure to the band (other than their mind melting contribution to the Music Fellowship split Crickets and Fireflies). I must say I was blown away.
From thick, churning, atmospheric layers of droning sound to strumming melodic guitars, to noisy full out jams, this is space rock with an edge. But it’s not the “out there in the cosmos” kind of edge. Kinski has an intellectual but grounded post punk feel to their music that is refreshingly appealing in a genre like this. The Sonic Youth influences are apparent, especially on the only non-instrumental track, Rhode Island Freakout. It wouldn’t seem out of place on an album like Daydream Nation, with bassist Lucy Atkinson’s deadpan voice talking away over the crunching riffs.
But other tracks take that post-punk aesthetic and turn it into something grand and furious, as if the band typically played on the rooftops of Seattle’s buildings, like the scintillating Semaphore, which is a moody rocker built around an entrancing synth sequence. We get even further away from post punk on other tracks. Your Lights are (Out or) Burning Badly even has a sinister, psychedelic vibe to it. Guitarist Chris Martin also brings something of his side project, Ampbuzz, to the proceedings, with warm layers of analog synths and pulsating electronic energy, especially in the ambient track, I Think I Blew It and the beautifully dreamy (until it explodes into a raunchy jam at the end) Waves of Second Guessing.
One of the things I really liked about this band was their ability to keep things melodic, no matter how loud and noisy they became. That’s in part due to Lucy Atkinson’s superb bass playing which often takes the lead role in a jam, like in the very cool Schedule for Using Beanbags and Pillows. The band is tight, never meandering, keeping things focussed and propelling forward without looking back.
Airs Above Your Station is an exhilarating ride, and could well be one of the best albums of the year.
For more info, visit: http://www.subpop.com.
Or check out Strange Attractors at: http://www.strange-attractors.com, who released the vinyl version.
Kinski’s own web site is at: http://www.kinski.net.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald