For their third album, Finnish quartet K-X-P – whose Twitter biog describes them as Original-Electronic-Motorhead-Space-Trance-Spiritual-Rock-Meditation-FreeJazz-Godz (!) – have decided to capture the raw energy of their live performances in the studio.
That description is not serious, of course, but neither is it far wrong, because their music is surprisingly adaptable, despite it not having an obvious melodic interest from first listen. Rather, it taps into a primal place of rhythm and percussion that stone-age man might have experienced, using music as a centrifugal force – and bringing together some of those elements outlined above, apart perhaps from the Motorhead.
III Part I – not the catchiest of titles – has just six tracks, and in places is improvisatory, living in the moment. Three of the tracks are heavyweights, clocking in at 10 minutes or thereabouts, giving the band the opportunity to really cut close. When they do it is a thrilling experience, especially when turned up loud. Obsolete And Beyond is the perfect example of this, rushing forward like a Union Pacific train out of control; its electronic effects the musical equivalent of forked lightning. Ra also rumbles along like a juggernaut on ice, its space rock leanings atop a massive, subterranean groove.
The best of the sextet is the single Space Precious Time, whose lumbering beat and majestic synths are truly impressive, with definite neighbour-bothering potential – only the folks next door should be too busy admiring K-X-P’s grandeur to kick up a real fuss. These tracks most definitely capture the thrill of live performance – though with K-X-P’s style of music, nothing quite beats being in the audience, the appreciation of the sheer force generated by two or maybe more percussionists.
That much is clear from the intro Psychic Hibernation, an awakening of sorts but one that can fall flat in the home environment without the build of dry ice and a noisy crowd to keep it in perspective. Likewise in Descend To Eternal, which begins with sounds like a horn call at the start of a Tolkien battle sequence, there is much to admire but not everything adds up.
Nor, in the course of the 50 minutes, are there many hooks or melodies to latch onto. The vocals are good – especially on Space Precious Time – but with the grooves tending towards the hypnotic, nothing changes too much over time.
III Part I is a qualified success, then, a record that works best the louder you play it. It is a reminder of the power of live music, and an indication this particular Finnish powerhouse is best experienced in the flesh.