K-X-P - II
Krautrock – both the Neu! And Fasutian faces – is based around bravery, repetition, and noise. Mainly repetition. The Finnish K-X-P are krautrock in everything but nationality (though they did make a concession by recording half of this second album in Berlin). So, I've been listening to II on repeat pretty much constantly for the past couple of days.
I wouldn't recommend this listening method for most albums (tell that to the lady who kept Phil Collins in her ears every day for a week), but the likes of Faust IV, Neu! 75 and II – I'm noticing a pattern here – aren't like most albums. Krautrock (or krautrock-influenced) records unfold like a musical fibonnaci sequence, layering ceaseless rhythms atop a steady metronome at the centre – be that the 4/4 motorik drum beat, a humming organ line, or a sort of reclaimed Gregorian chant – before peeling it all back. And that's it. The lyrics are rarely anything more than a glorified football chant, there's no startling middle-eights. They're hard to write about, since the sort of hypnotically mesmerising trance that such music is designed to put over you doesn't really work in writing, where reading the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over is more just boring (and easily scrolled past).
In music, though, it works. K-X-P can be compared just as easily to the other bands hoping to tap into the working krautrock lineage, like Fujiya and Miyagi, Trans Am (the frenetic-euphoric 'Magnetic North', with its incongruous cow noises and "Satan is Lord!" refrain, respectively) or the last two Horrors albums (the spiky keys and fluid drumming of 'Flags and Crosses' has more than a drop of 'Sea Within A Sea'...within it), but II stands up against them just as well as the originals.
They're working from the same spellbook as Dinger and Rother, but K-X-P are concerned with summoning a scarier, less restrained monster from the depths – each song is separated by an instrumental taste of what's to come, in the form of treated horns, guitar drones, and abstract drum machine beats, like an invocation. As the album goes on, the soporific musical alliteration becomes more tribalistic, the noise that buzzed in the background like a de-tuned television threatens to tidal wave everything else, and the calmly recited, single-line lyrics sound more and more like the demented ravings of a crazy person (and are performed as such). Everything comes to a head on the penultimate 'Easy (Infinity Waits)', where the percussion becomes more a pounding industrial metronome around which a demented, Faustian (in both senses) disco track – complete with "doo doo doos" and a vocal cameo by Annie - completes the descent into madness. The fun kind of Madness, not the sort in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
II manages to do something new, but constituted of recognisable parts – not a freakish, unnatural Frankenstein's monster, but a self-reflexive collection of darkly seductive, noisy music that's like the most life-affirming dirge you've ever heard. I could probably listen to it for another few days in a row, if I didn't value my own sanity (and my soul).