The soundscapers of Kinski are a patient and exacting lot. The Seattle group (a trio of bassist/organist/violinist Lucy Atkinson, guitarist Chris Martin and drummer David Weeks (replaced in 2002 by Barrett Wilke) on the debut; a quartet with the addition of guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Reid Schwartz) is primarily (although not completely) instrumental, exploring a dynamic range from the wispiest trace of sounds to a heaving, gargantuan bosom of full-throttle sonic aggression. Unlike others of the ilk, however, at no point do they relinquish control; even the loudest passages have clear shape and direction.
The self-released SpaceLaunch for Frenchie contains six long songs that are individually engrossing, if limited in scope, and somewhat muffled by the mix. Occasional vocals (by Martin) add variety and tie the group into formal and consistent song form, which doesn’t seem alien to their ideas in any case. For reference, a clearly articulated cover of Spacemen 3’s “Losing Touch With My Mind” ends the album, but there s more going on here than mere homage. With one foot in instrumental exploration and textural dynamics and the other in psychedelic song craft, Kinski leads and lets its fuzzboxes follow.
The debut’s vestigial obligation to verse-chorus-verse nearly goes out the window on the seven-track Be Gentle With the Warm Turtle, a clearly rendered and gripping work of instrumental prowess and teamwork in which mind-expansion is at least one of the goals and vocals play an even more incidental role. (Actually, keyboards figure more than voice here.) When he’s not playing six-string tippy-tappy with a delicate touch (is that an acoustic guitar on “Montgomery”?), Martin puts pedals to the meddle and launches massive waves of guitar wash while the rhythm section nimbly keeps the ship upright and moving forward, providing a stalwart anchor that does not sink the vessel when the winds suddenly die away, as they are wont to do here. In a wry salute that is both titular and musical, Kinski acknowledges Sonic Youth in the “Daydream Intonation,” which revs up halfway through and keeps the pressure on like a tourniquet for three-and-a-half edge-of-your-seat minutes.
The four-song Semaphore EP contains a cover of the Clean’s “Point That Thing Somewhere Else.” Ampbuzz is Martin’s solo project.