We Move Through Negative Spaces is the second album from the London-based Kontakte, and one that improves hugely on their promising 2008 debut, Soundtracks To Lost Road Movies.
Without drastically changing their approach, they have studied, evolved and expanded their sound to stunning effect. Each of the eight tracks blend seamlessly into the next without any of them sounding like another. Their dedication to coherence should be applauded. The arrangement of an album as a whole is a skill overlooked by so many, and in a modern world of bite-sized chunks and disposable arts, musicians taking the bigger picture into consideration are always welcome.
For the most part, it is a familiar territory. Kontakte take their cue from other groups with a similar manifesto (think M83 or Fuck Buttons amongst others), and while the basis of the record is a layered wall of sound and synthesised drum patterns, there is a more organic feel underpinning the music. At times it’s hard to tell what is or isn’t synthesised, but it’s so well produced that in the end it doesn’t matter. Every sound and instrument is blended immaculately, real or otherwise, and combines to create lush new scenery with the start of each track.
The overall tone lies somewhere between hopeful and melancholic. Songs like ‘Hope’ and ‘The Owls Won’t See Us In Here’ utilise distorted feedback and reverb to fill out the backdrops. ‘Early Evening Bleeds Into Light’ and ‘Every Passing Hour’ put strings to excellent use, the latter as poignant a four minutes as you’re ever likely to hear. Exploring these emotional depths actually gives We Move Through Negative Spaces more in common with Clint Mansells The Fountain soundtrack than any other contemporary artists. The intricacies and attention to detail, the ethereal soundscapes and sweeping movements all add up to something with genuine substance and profundity, and that isn’t a statement you can make very often.
After withdrawing into an extended hibernation following their critically acclaimed debut three years ago, it shouldn’t now come as a surprise to discover they spent most of that time writing and honing this record. It was well worth the wait. Let’s hope it gets the attention it deserves.