Published on July 30th, 2010 in: Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |
By Ben Sullivan
In our current cultural moment of sonic permissiveness and fraying mainstream consensus, instrumental rock is no longer ghettoized to the skinny aisles of sub-genre. Prog is no longer a four letter word; electronic/rock hybrids are old hat. Even when the guitar is de-emphasized à la Out Hud—or completely absent, as with Add (N) to (X)—vocal-light bands specializing in sturdy rock grooves now enjoy growing audiences and heightened festival appeal.
That being said, the ubiquity of the guitar and the immediacy of its musical heritage still pay dividends. The six-stringers in Battles can still reliably benefit from stage-side guitar-nerds slobbering over their nervy chops. Post-rockers Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky have proven accessible enough for big-budget soundtrack work. So: whither the synthesizer in the expanding landscape of post-pop?
K-X-P’s synth-centric self-titled debut is redoubtably Teutonic. Driving, unfettered motorik grooves undergird a tasteful array of analog modules bubbling, reverberating, and panning towards dawn. Founder and lead wavesmith Timo Kaukolampi manages the density of his arrangements skillfully and with rockist panache, patiently staging his modulations over the insinuating groove of “Mehu Moments.” Kaukolampi expertly samples (and simulates) a gate-reverb-drenched guitar in “18 Hours (Of Love),” a credible club rave-up caught somewhere between Depeche Mode’s shuffle grooves and Alan Vega’s solo output.