“This is a dialogue between man and machine,” say K-X-P, continuing the lineage set out by Kraftwerk all those years ago. Yet a nostalgic pursuit of such past explorations this is not, IV is an album that is emblematic of K-X-P’s ever-ceasing desire to move forward and explore new worlds, hurtling forward into new realms of minimal techno, icy synths and brooding atmospheres.
K-X-P which revolves around two main collaborators – Timo Kaukolampi and Tomi Leppänen – have now been playing together for over a decade, resulting in one of Finland’s most consistent yet ever-evolving alternative artists. As with most K-X-P records, there’s a strong thematic approach and concept at its core. For anyone that has seen the band will know, their live shows are a potent and unforgettable force. So this record was made from the energy and approach of one. “We recorded this album like we do live shows, says Timo. “No headphones, just loud monitors blasting the synths and beat boxes. Usually we make records in a studio, then after its finished we learn and rehearse the tracks and hit the road. This time we made the core of the record and started to play it live pretty much immediately after first drafts. We wanted to do things differently, to get the music in our muscle memory before recording anything. ”
The raw energy of this approach is palpable on the record. The driving, propulsive rhythms charge with purpose whilst the synth work washes over sections in giant engulfing waves, and electronics and beats collide in rocketing harmony. Whilst the record is thoughtful and doesn’t succumb to easy euphoria, it paces forward with intent and a sonic vigour that would hit audiences as hard as their live shows do.
Whilst the opening “Nimetön Tie” might sound like a journey into outer space or a nosedive into the future, it actually translates as “road with no name”. Timo says: “It is some kind of metaphor of the journey to death. The trip a human must take from this form of living into the next one.” Which adds a whole new dimension to the already expansive sonic voyage, placing the track as something that would work just as well pummelling out of live PA speakers as it would a dreamy headphone listen in darkness. Something This is something Tomi concurs when summing up his general thoughts on the sense of exploration on the record. “It’s about depth of time, non-linear time and escapism.”
Yet for all its expansiveness, IV is also about minimalism. About extracting as much power from as little as possible and making sure that force can impact without being encumbered by unnecessary musical additions. “We made the root compositions with an Analog Four synth made by Swedish Elektron,” says Timo.
“Everything was composed on the sequencer of that machine. It has a one octave keyboard and this limitation was essential to keep things small and simple.”
Ultimately however, driving forward and exploring new territory is at the heart of K-X-P, both in the music itself and in their never look back approach. In fact Tomi refers to this three-track album as “a pure piece of transparent bright futurism – a mix of raw power, cosmic disco, modern classical and rave anthems.”