Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Down Below It’s Chaos
Kinski are rock-ist scientists. They know precisely how long to hold a riff before the drums hit for maximum impact. They let the tension build & deploy the release at the perfect moment. They specialize in creating catharsis. While all this precision might seem to make the listener feel manipulated, they do it with such expertise it feels totally organic.

While most people take notice of Chris (no he is not married to Gwyneth) Martin’s guitar heroics, it is Lucy Atkinson’s bass playing that is key to grounding the guitar chaos of Chris and Matthew. Barrett Wilke, the drummer, is also key to the framework of Kinski’s rollercoaster like songs.

The first three tracks on the album are all about the full-on rock. “Cry Baby Blowout” is a fun romping number. The Kinski kids walk up to the very edge of the cliff of wanky-ness on this song, but fortunately the rock-ist scientists in Kinski know precisely how far to push it. “Passwords & Alcohol” has a mid-period Sonic Youth vibe to it. While most of the band’s output is instrumentals, on this album Chris sings on a few tracks. The song deals with the deadly combination of alcohol and a fast internet connection; well at least that is what I think it is about. “Passwords & Alcohol, soft light changes all.” The band can turn on a dime from melodic guitar lines with singing to full-on feedback attacks.

“Dayroom at Narita Int’l” has Chris brushing his teeth in the bathroom on an airplane on his way to Japan. This song contains the lyrics that are also the title of the album, “Down Below is Chaos, So don’t go down below.” The first three songs are full-on rockers before they start to stretch it out on “Boy, Was I Mad.” The guitar licks sound like the Christmas classic “We Three Kings.” Matthew contributes an Isobel Sollenberger -worthy flute line before switching back to the guitar attack of the first few tracks. On “Child Had to Catch a Train,” Lucy provides a pretty bad ass, yet simple bass solo to the song. “Silent Biker Type” ends the disc. It is a slowly creeping song, like a giant tortoise dragging itself up the steep embankment of a suburban drainage ditch.

Kinski has found just the right balance between all-out rockers & slow burners. I think Kinski has finally produced an album that matches the ferocity and transcendent beauty of their live sets. While it may seem to be chaotic, there is a great deal of control in these excellent tunes. (Sub Pop) (Dan Cohoon)