K-X-P is a trio with a lot of previous. Hailing from Finland, they are led by Timo Kaukolampi, whose day job up until now has majored on production, ably assisting Annie in her pop charm offensive. His own music, however, and that of his trio, is rather different.
The three are low frequency specialists, and there is a real ‘drum and bass’ vibe to their music, where the drum is often a steady, marching tread, and the bass two instruments beefing up an already congested lower end. The resultant sound falls somewhere between krautrock and glam, and is nowhere near the speed of drum ‘n’ bass, but does land in an intriguing place of rhythm and noise.
Each track finds a pitch and sets up camp on it, setting the atmosphere and establishing the heartbeat, progressing rather than settling for straight repetition. The grooves evolve gradually, the kinetic energy increases, and on tracks like Elephant Man and Pockets the rhythms get a reassuring dose of strength.
The more spatial New World and Labyrinth show how the trio can amend their style to more cinematic dimensions, with ambience coating the edges of their sound, but Aibal Dub feels a touch too slow, its loose funk on the sluggish side.
But the biggest problem with the K-X-P approach is that it often feels as if there is a vital element missing. Sometimes this is a melody to latch on to, but the glamorous 18 Hours (Of Love) confirms the gap even more strongly, offering the first vocal – which proves to be the exception rather than the rule. So while it is easy to admire the instrumental prowess and textures, and equally straightforward to move with them, the record can fall short as a home listening experience.
Despite moments of great promise then, there is a slight element of being short changed about this debut album. Many of the basic components would seem to be in place, and in a club this music undoubtedly looks for and gets an extra dimension, but the addition of the vocals highlights exactly what is missing elsewhere. A touch frustrating then, but still a name to keep an eye on.