Kinski
Alpine Static
2005
D



citing pretentious influences can be a good way to bluff your way to credibility. But it can also get you trapped in an impossible pickle of comparison. Kinski is making out like bandits name-dropping composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley as influences. But it appears to be working in their favor, convincing more than a couple music writers to list Reich et al in their reviews as if they had extracted these comparisons from listening and not just from reading.

The only way Kinski has successfully applied ideas of Minimalism to their music is in relation to their appeal. In other words, their music is minimally enjoyable. Any serious academic comparison between the compositions of Reich or Riley and the intellectually underfunded guitar orgies of Alpine Static is ludicrous at best. Yes, Kinski’s music is primarily diatonic and repetitive, but comparing their work to that of the standard bearers of minimalist composition is like comparing Donald Judd’s sculpture to the wax figurines of gorillas that get made before your eyes by quarter-activated machines at the zoo.

Maybe I’m missing something, a cipher that allows access to the higher plains of listening that some of the buzz around this record promises. This notion haunted me listen after listen. I didn’t want to be left, “not getting it.” But after a few weeks of constant rotation I have come to the conclusion that there’s just not much to get; these 9 tracks awkwardly move from one improvident moment to the next, collectively assembling a record that might elevate the mood of an extreme skiing video but does little to lift conciseness.

There are a few scintillations of inspiration, however, like the interesting harmonic motion of “Hiding Drugs in the Temple (part 2).” The song begins as an awkward power-chord assault that sounds like a high-school basement band that has recently given up their metal records for schwag and early Floyd; but at about a minute and a half the guitars break step to move in Jaga Jazzist-like distorted counterpoint—its pretty cool.

“The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia” has its moments as well. The song begins in silence until an icy drone rises from the depths (somebody lower the micro-trilithon). Harmonically phasing guitars enter the mix and seem to be leading to great things until…WANK! But after the jarring cacophonic incontinence dissipates, the guitars figures pick up again joined by the rhythm section—until the guitars seem to melt around the pulse. But the major problem with this song, and this record in general, is that their high points, which seem to be bridges to potential greatness, never lead anywhere but to walls of tedious full blast six-string hanky-panky and pointless effects chain tap dances.

Buy it at Insound!


Reviewed by: Mario Quadracci
Reviewed on: 2005-08-18
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