K-X-P ‘III Part II’ (Öm/Svart)

Attitude-fuelled, volcanic electronic post-punk offering

This could get confusing, but is really quite simple; ‘III’ is the Finnish trio’s epic work which, quite understandably, started in early 2015 with ‘Part 1’ and followed their debut ‘The History Of Techno’ EP. Consisting of singer/electronic craftsman Timo Kukolampi (the “K”), bassist-keyboardist Tuomo Puranen (the “P”) and alternating drummers Tomi Leppanen and Anssi Nykanen (the “X”, for its mystery factor), the group deftly harness familiar genres such as prog, metal and electronically hot-wired noise for their dark missives concerning war, paranoia and a cosmic new age.

The two parts of the whole 13-track work were recorded in the same sessions on the fortified island of Suomenlinna, which is only reached by boat from Helsinki. Working in surroundings so quiet you could hear a reindeer blow off inspired the band to dive in to the task at hand on all cylinders. If ‘Part I’ set the scene and mapped out the sonic terrain with six bolts of dark, seething tension, ‘Part II’ uncorks the grand finale and sprays it all over the place as a multi-hued climax that grips throughout its seven lengthy ejaculations.

Sometimes the gauzy, juddering signals which Timo deploys to kick off songs such as the opening ‘Winner’ or Suicide-go-motorik hell-cruise of ‘Freeway’ sound barely containable as their rolling black clouds congeal into tangible riffs, before the band unbutton their supercharged collective mutton and steam in, like apocalyptic horsemen galloping through the carnage of the world. Strains of krautrock, space-rock, prog rock and even heavy rock proliferate throughout, along with a post-punk sensibility, which recalls the sinister electronic austerity of Sheffield’s 1970s industrial transmissions. Timo agrees the set is “the most rock, punk and new wave record we have ever done. It is angry and hostile but it also has beauty in it. Like a conversation between good and evil, capturing the moment when punk rockers started to use drum machines and synthesisers”.

Punk attitude indeed powers the band’s sonic liquidiser on the eight-minute ‘Siren’ (which Timo describes as a “Dystopian vision of modern warfare where a drone pilot never meets his victims”), although the big, dramatic chords that rear like an ominous bison’s stiffie owe as much to Metallica (“before they started to suck big time”). This is also the case on the ensuing ‘Air Burial’ (albeit mated with a hectic motorik beat). On ‘To Believe’, K-X-P recall Primal Scream in their angry electro-clashing phase, with sinuous bassline, chanted vocals and freeform electronic scrabbles liable to wreak mass destruction at any moment, while ‘Sub Goblin’ uses martial drums to ignite a furious techno-space-rock hybrid, which piles into deep prog vistas aboard mysterioso monster-chords. ‘Transuranic Heavy Elements’ takes the album out on a glowering, radioactive shudder, decaying into the ether while bringing down the curtain on an impressive future rampage of unbridled questing and volatile emotions.

Everything is infused with the band’s turbulent, restless energy, which turns out to be their secret weapon in making this all sound much better than it might appear from trying to describe it.

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