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Take the themes of: fear of war, paranoia, euphoria, dark sexuality and a cosmic new age and imagine them in the industrial backdrop of 1970s Sheffield and you have Timo Kaukolampi’s vision for what the fourth K-X-P album ‘III Part II’ sounds and looks like.
The Finnish group – the core unit of which has now long comprised of the trio: Timo Kaukolampi (electronics, vocals and the ‘K’), Tuomo Puranen (bass, keyboards and the ‘P’), and alternating drummers (the ‘X’ – for the mystery) Tomi Leppänen and Anssi Nykänen – are once again found to be breaking territory in the second part of their album III. If Part I was the brooding, rising and tension-ensconced opening act then Part II is the climatic and explosive finale that wraps up the thirteen tracks that stretches across the two releases. It’s a rare feat to be able to create a second half to something that feels both unique and of its own character as well as be something that retains coherence and conclusion but K-X-P has succeeded in doing just that.
Despite the evolution of K-X-P being such a progressive and capacious one, it’s something the group consider to be uncontrollable rather than concocted, “It is not possible to control or predict. It is random and chaotic, [considered] evolution sucks the energy from me like a leech.” Timo Kaukolampi says of the process.
From 2014’s The History of Techno EP to Part I of III being released early in 2015, the group have traversed genres with glistening grace, from ambient proto techno to juddering space rock and just about everywhere else in between. For Kaukolampi however, he views this latest sonic development as “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 sequencers.”
When pressed on the individual tracks from the album, the sorts of descriptions and reference points eclipse that conventional and prosaic: “A Dystopian vision of modern warfare where a drone pilot never meets his victims” is said in reference to ‘Siren’, a song four years in the making; “Fast like early Metallica before they started to suck big time” is said of ‘Air Burial’ whilst ‘Transuranic Heavy Elements’ is described as “Human radioactive waste that will keep caved vaults warm eons after our race has left this planet”. The themes tackled on this release are as ambitious and exploratory as the music itself.
Like a film that was filmed in one go and then the split in two to tell the story in more detail, Part II was recorded at the same time as Part I in the unique location Suomenlinna, a World Heritage fortified island in front of Helsinki. Kaukolampi recalls the journey (via boat) to get there to record, “It is a ride over the dark grey waters and it is a calming transition. When you get to the island you can exhale and empty yourself from the zeitgeist of this crazy world. It is the place nearest to Helsinki that is so quiet you can hear your own tinnitus.”
The end result being another one to chalk up on the list of immersive yet expansive releases from K-X-P, the process required to put this together is going to take a while for Kaukolampi to fully take in as he says, “Honestly the process of finishing the record was so intensive that it was a few months before I could back and listen to it.” Although its unlikely to have the same impact on the listener, the intensive approach applied to the creators is one that emerges to be an immediate yet challenging listen, one that is as fun as it is experimental and fluid as it is unpredictable and further proof of the inimitable distinctiveness of K-X-P.