review “We Move Through Negative Spaces” by Kontakte

Posted by on Mar 20, 2011 in kontakte, review | No Comments

Double ethereal negative

Kontakte – We move through negative spaces

Post rock is a tricky genre to tackle and it sometimes can be a tag that can be detrimental to a band. I really don’t know any more what “post rock” means (although I like the definition by Joe Shrewsbury from 65daysofstatic), so let’s say Kontakte makes expansive instrumental music, filled with electronica touches and a great wall of sound approach.

This is their second album, called We move through negative spaces. The sound of an old record spinning welcomes you, crackles and all. ‘Astralagus’, heavy on the electronic glitches, is a quite good choice for an opening track. A leisure pace, a lot of reverb (and chorus, probably) and that building arpeggio make it very pleasing to the ear.

‘Hope’ continues the record spinning scratch for a few moments, goes for a quiet approach and rides the wall of sound approach. Thick, expanding all over the earphones (wear good ones for this one) and slowly rising in tempo, reaching not quite drum & bass rhythms, but giving it a good chase for its money. Hard to convey the feeling of “hope” in a wordless song, but this one pulls it just right.

There’s something about how most songs by Kontakte seem to be made up with “movements”. You’ve synth and electronic drums bits here and there, then heavy feedback and arpeggios complementing each other (like in ‘With glowing hearts’). It’s probably their signature sound, but it’s not formulaic, there are real variations here.

I pretty much enjoy songs that don’t shy away from experimenting with real calm sounds and layering over some really loud stuff. ‘Early evening bleeds into night’ is piano-heavy, but the distorted guitars going for saturation are just perfect and the lonely violin by the end is poignant.

By this point, at the exact half of the album, the mood seems to be quite reflective, like a spot of self-assessment about what you’ve done and what you want to change in your life. Or maybe that’s just some self-projection. Anyways, ‘A snow flake in her hand’ got me in that mood, with the lovely guitar work and the string section (heart melting).  Title’s quality too.

Still, life moves on, right? ‘The owls won’t see us here’ is a haymaker, leading you into a false sense of security but then going for a punchy electronic beat (paired with more great guitar work – love the feedback in the middle). ‘Every passing hour’ is pretty dark, the sound sample of children playing with that eerie synth line is chilling and it’s the perfect segue, the beautiful ‘The ocean between you and me’. I have personal reasons to be partial to a song with this title, so suffice to say: it conveys the feelings of longing for someone who is pretty far from you, not only in a physical/geographical sense. Love the “explosion” bit where the guitar soars away while the electronic beat keeps everyone grounded. It’s like flying kites in a sunny day.

We move through negative spaces is quite an excellent offering by Kontakte. The stakes of mixing instrumental rock with electronica have been raised from their previous album (the also recommendable Soundtracks to lost road movies) and these 8 songs are a prime cut for lovers of instrumental rock.