August 26, 2005

Kinski "Alpine Static"

A friend of mine went to see Kinski on their recent tour. He wasn’t that much of a fan, and until I heard Alpine Static, neither was I, but after being blown away by their new record, I suggested he make haste to their gig. His report back to me was most encouraging; he said he’d dismissed the band for a long time, but seeing them live made him change his opinion. He said what moved him most was watching the audience; people were throwing their hands up in the air and were singing along to every song. That Kinski is an instrumental band makes that even more impressive. Like my friend, I wasn’t convinced of Kinski’s greatness, but then I heard this Seattle group’s fifth album, Alpine Static, and I changed my tune.

With Alpine Static, Kinski continues to do what it has done so well for the past six years: epic, relentless stoned-out instrumental rock. As usual, they do the loud thing, they do the quiet thing, they do the noisy thing, but with age comes experience, and with experience comes restraint, and for the first time in their career, they’ve managed to produce a record that highlights their musical strengths and reigns in the monotony and the tedium that travels hand-in-hand with this kind of music. On Alpine Static, they pile on the heavy-duty rock jams (“Hiding Drugs in The Temple (Pt. 2)”) all the while offering beautiful instrumental paeans that expand the mind instantly, no drugs needed.

Alpine Static starts off heavy and loud. The first two songs, “Hot Stenographer” and “The Wives of Artie Shaw,” are loud, ferocious numbers that boogie and shimmer with a red-hot rock heat that’s enough to get your fist waving in the air and your head bopping. As Alpine Static proceeds, it grows mellower and deeply more beautiful; “Passed Out On Your Lawn” and “All Your Kids Have Turned To Static” are pretty numbers that caress your ears and soothe your soul from the rock beating a few songs previous. The one-two-three knockout closing punch of “The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia,” “Edge Set” and “Waka Nusa,” though, is the money shot; one listen will send all listeners—doubters and converts alike—into a cerebral journey that is relaxing, overwhelmingly beautiful and downright heavenly.

Though some people find instrumental rock to be a mixed bag, Kinski’s Alpine Static is a clear exception. The band’s ability to write heavy, epic rock that’s both beautiful and overwhelmingly powerful is indicative of a great talent, and with this record they’ve moved up into a stratosphere where they have no peers. An all-around amazing experience, this.

--Joseph Kyle

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