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K-X-P – III, Part One


K-X-P - III, Part IFor their third album, K-X-P have upped their psychedelic game as well as expanded their kosmische disco credentials (with a hint of prog) by not only naming the LP III, but Part I thereof, with who knows how many more instalments yet to come.

If those aren’t real Mellotron sounds which introduce the thumping tribal drums of “Psychic Hibernation”’s overture, then the synths that sweep majestically into view certainly make enough of a stirring impression for starters. Where previous records have tended towards the motorway-friendly, III sets itself up for a journey still more spacious and expansive, with all of applicable intergalactic metaphors ready to be deployed for their description.

So the mood is stirringly upbeat, whipped up and sundered by trails of echo and drone from guest Mika Vainio of Ø and Pan Sonic, which curl around the energetic percussion and arpeggiated major-key grooves of a track like “Space Precious Time”. They’re equally present on the thumping techno of “RA”, which continues the exploration of hypnotic electronic music laid out on their ambitious (and largely successful in its stated aim) EP  attempting to give a “History of Techno” – which came in four parts and is not much shorter than this LP. Timo Kaukolampi sings with all the earnest wastrel passion of a louche Eighties synth-pop star who’s gone well beyond the call of rock’n’roll duty, drifting far out and sometimes frazzled while the electronics throb their machine love for the cosmos.

Tomi Leppänen allso gets to hit his motorik stride from his cloaked and masked position behind the drumkit, particularly on “Obsolete And Beyond”, whose pumping rhythms cruise up to the ten-minute mark and beyond with all the strobe-lit intensities which the dancefloor demands. It’s here that III trips off an in-brain lightshow so fantastic that Timo has almost no reasonable option open to him but to let his words soar into the stratosphere with all the desperate emotion that lyrics about “the sea of despair” can explore. Now, while that might sound bleak and liable to bring the mood down, Kaukolampi is more than adept at making even the most despondent words sound uplifting, almost operatically so, when he lets rip.

This commitment to the sort of theatrics which K-X-P bring so fulsomely to their live shows gives III‘s first round an infectious energy that lifts the spirits simply by listening. This is especially evident on the minimalist “Siren’s Dawn”, which pulses around the interesction where Philip Glass meets The Residents in a brief, uplifting rhythmic trundle. However, K-X-P save the best for last in a finale which brings the intergalactic disco well and truly to the party, “Descend To Eternal” being fully in possession not only of the funk but a sinuous kosmik vibe which could make Giorgio Moroder strut his mustachio’d stuff in a vision of silver suits, anti-gravity dancing shoes and smart drug cocktails.

At an LP-sized 40-plus minutes, this initial helping of III is at once compact and to the point, but still leaves an appetite for more; here’s hoping that Part II (and perhaps more) will be served up soon.

-Richard Fontenoy-

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