Flirting With Greatness
For Now, Kinski is a Little Fire
w/the Cripples, Welcome
Crocodile, 441-5611, Fri Feb 16.
"My head is one big garbage can where everything is jumbled around," Polish-born film actor Klaus Kinski once said. No shit? It happens to the best of us--even Kinski, the Seattle rock band that takes its name from the garbage-filled misogynist in question. The music our Kinski makes is inherently overwrought and cluttered, and, as a result, it serves this great function of overtaking the listener's senses, and clearing out some of the residual worm-rot.
Highly emotive and aggressive, the aural rushes Kinski generates are unlike those of any other band currently playing in Seattle. Kinski routinely stupefies audience members with its passion and overarching force. Showgoers love the band because Kinski is so energetically heightened--the kind of band you feel at the soles of your feet.
But that energy is not unfamiliar to anyone who has listened back through the last 30-some-odd years of rock and roll music. Take an obvious influence like the Velvet Underground, whose artful dissonance and emotional turmoil comes upon the listener like a fast-moving train and develops into something more immediate--a heavy blanket of fog in which a person feels drugged and pulled inside out. Or the mighty, psychedelic Pink Floyd, who created a thick, rarefied film of emotion and rendered the listener pleasantly psychotic (or "Comfortably Numb," as it were). Listening to Kinski, though, one hears so much of bands like Slowdive and Yo La Tengo, and even, believe it or not, Jane's Addiction, that it becomes clear: Kinski is still young.
Take track three of the band's brand-new Pacifico recording, Be Gentle with the Warm Turtles. It's just like a Yo La Tengo song, and a good one at that, like the revved-up version of "Big Day Coming," off of Painful. There's this crash of distortion on the Kinski song, though, that punctuates between verses (verses that happen to contain some of the only vocals on the record), demonstrating what makes Kinski unique in its appeal. The vacillation between moody, playful atmospherics, possessed of a dream-like quality, and violent charges of blissed-out guitar noise give the song a voice unique to Kinski. Track one is a warm, repetitive loop of pretty, effected guitar sound, and track two is an apocalyptic attention-grabber that calls to mind Jane's Addiction's "Summertime Rolls." Remember that song? It was an exercise in bravado through musical self-assertion, which practically eclipsed a decade of metal, raising the bar for metal's potential with a smirk and a single strum. Kinski could do that one day if its members keep their heads on right.
In terms of sheer grandeur, however, Kinski already intimates genius. At about 4:30 on track four, there's an epic moment where the guitar tracks climb and fall in dual octaves, leading into a vortex of feedback and jumbled notes that culminates in a breath of release--a moment of calm where the song gently lulls itself into completion. Like sex, right? Only the transitions are slightly askew, the movement is less instinctive than sex, and the piece doesn't settle as one might hope sex would. To say this is not a slight on the band's ability to write songs, but more an assertion that this is a band taking on a great deal more than what most of its Seattle peers are trying to pull off. When one considers that this is only Kinski's second album, and that Kinski is, as of now, still barely a blip on any sort of nationwide musical radar, one realizes that we have a potentially enormous band tucked away in our midst, one that is flirting with unrepentant artistry.
So, for today, it seems appropriate that Kinski is somewhat less realized and more self-aware than a Yo La Tengo or a Jane's Addiction. All that seems to be lacking in the band and Be Gentle with the Warm Turtles is an un-self-conscious resolve for resolution--that all-important, gut-level addiction to gaining momentum and riding it until the waves subside by virtue of necessity, as opposed to craft--that makes those two other bands vanguard in their respective genres.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Kinski is the drumming. Few things in life are more satisfying than a drummer elegantly pound-ing the fuck out of his kit, beneath thick, omnipresent layers of distortion and delay. The album is resplendent with rolling fills and heavy hits. As the guitars create a raveling and unraveling knot of tension, and the bass takes root in being fundamentally cool and even, drummer Dave Weeks propels the band into a realm where the garbage in the listener's head is set alight.