When I first saw London post rock outfit Kontakte, named after the famous composition by pioneering modern composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, they were performing their first album Soundtracks to Lost Road Movies in the atmospheric setting of a renovated medieval church, backed by projections of abstract images. Even then, having only recently formed out of bassist Ian Griffith’s bedroom project, they were astonishingly cinematic, creating complex and textured soundscapes shrouding distant melodies in feedback and static. Seeing them perform live, jamming with electric guitars against a backdrop of glitchy beats, was astonishing, like being carried away by a wave of energy. With their forthcoming album We Move Through Negative Spaces, they’ve honed and polished that sound to such a staggering level that they can truly be considered alongside such atmospheric post rock giants as Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor, whilst also carving their own unique space within the genre.
The band’s emotional palette has deepened considerably, something aptly demonstrated by the album’s second track, Hope…, which carries an epic atmospheric charge that explodes in its second half into a souring crescendo of sculpted sound, and then dips again to introduce some subtle melodics and whispering voices. Another track, Glowing Hearts, peels back the static to showcase some truly heartfelt and beautiful guitar work, against a shimmering background drone and crystalline beats. Although the tracks are still shot through with the same energy as before, there’s more variety and subtlety this time around.
The quality of the production on the album combined with the band’s innovative use of glitchy, layered beats is reminiscent of The Last Resort by Denmark’s techno maestro Trentmoller. However the addition of a back bone of discursive guitars and, in some tracks such as the incredibly evocative Early Evening Bleeds into Night, violin, xylophone and piano, demonstrates the truth behind the band’s assertion that they trace their sound back to classical music traditions as much as electronic. Whilst the production quality is almost on par with Trentmoller, his almost clinical precision is replaced here by a very human quality; an emotional core that is uniquely their own.