Killflavour – The Flavour of 51 Golden Mandingos
(band released 2006)
Killflavour – Liquid Songs of a Deadbird (self-released 2007)
From Aural Innovations #39 (May 2008)
There are a lot of bands out there these days playing or at least somewhat influenced by Krautrock. The artistic movement started in Germany in the late 60’s, though most of the newer artists playing this kind of music these days come from other countries. But Killflavour actually hails from Saarbrücken, Germany. I don’t know if that makes them any more authentic as Krautrockers, but I can tell you this, from pure sound alone, they are the real deal.
Drawing on the traditions of rock musicians from their country’s past (I hear influences such as Can, Faust, and Kraftwerk) but updating the sound, moving forward with it, Killflavour produce something that is dark and cosmic, stuff that grooves in a very alien way. The music is totally improvised, as the band lays down sheets of atmospheric noise, occasionally augmented by the crackling static of distortion or the use of cinematic voice samples. The drummer pounds out hypnotic, minimalist rhythms, while the guitarists focus more on adding layers of texture and subtle melodies rather than soloing. Cosmic synths bleep in and out, swirling around the rhythms. The band’s vocalist takes an approach similar in ways to former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki, improvising, often adding to the rhythmic structure of the piece with chant-like vocalisations, but his voice is deeper and more gothic than Suzuki’s, adding a layer of darkness to the sound. But the darkness is like the vast night, because the music of Killflavour is very spacious, and touches on a sense of wonder as well. Despite the motorik rhythms often employed, the music is never industrial or mechanical in nature; it’s rich and organic, and exciting to the senses.
Both albums I have here for review are topnotch efforts of creative sonic exploration and are definitely recommended for any fans of Krautrock and experimental improvised rock. It’s hard for me to compare them, but I would say Liquid Songs of a Deadbird has just a touch more spaciness to it, whereas The Flavour of 51 Golden Mandingos takes a slightly more earthy approach to its sound. I would say get them both...you won’t be disappointed!
For more info, visit: http://www.killflavour.com and http://www.myspace.com/killflavour (both sites have songs posted for listening)
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald