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We Move Through Negative Spaces




Drifting Falling

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We Move Through Negative Spaces is the second album from Kontakte, a London-based electro post-rock act. The music on this record is similar to what Lights Out Asia, Bitcrush, Hammock, and Port-Royal are doing. This seems to be a sort of underground trend, as in there are several acts merging melodic guitars and electronically manipulated sounds in long, slowly growing songs. I happen to like this sort of thing, and find that We Move Through Negative Spaces was the best example of this genre in 2011.

They appear to be a four-piece act, and i say appear because none of the press material i got actually lists a lineup -- i am just guessing that the four people walking on the beach in the photo on their label page are the band members. Who knows? That just might be a picture of random people the band liked. At any rate, the music here is not made by a standard-four piece lineup. There are no traditional drum sounds on this record. All of the percussion comes out of a laptop. That is kind of different, and, i think, interesting. It puts a bit more emphasis on the electro part of electro post-rock.

The record starts with a long slow lead of synth strings and skittering beats in Astralagus, which meanders for a few minutes before the guitars come in, chiming away. This is nice and melodic, a good intro to the record.

Hope… is the next song, and starts with the same guitars from the end of the previous track, just a light chiming. And then, suddenly, one of the guitarists hits a distortion pedal, and the song rocks out with heavy riffing, like something from Explosions in the Sky. I like that while one guitar grinds, one still continues the slow melodic chording, as the drum machine speeds up to a spastic drum-n-bass level. Eventually there is either someone singing through distortion or a mangled vocal sample, but either way it works. This is good stuff.

On With Glowing Hearts, there is a nice steady piano riff, and a fast guitar bit, like what Johnny Marr is playing at the end of Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want. What is the name for that style of playing? I like it, at any rate. Kontakte move from The Smiths to Tortoise on Early Evening Bleeds Into Night, adding a lovely xylophone melody to the drum machine, strings, whirring guitars, and piano that make up this tune. It gets kind of messy, but in a good way.

A Snowflake in Her Hand features some kind of whooshing sample, like wind, in the background. It is an odd sound. Over this Kontakte layer in strings, making this almost chamber post-rock, and really pretty. Not as pretty as The Owls Won’t See Us In Here. On this tune, the guitar saws away under ebow, while the electronic beats grow from light and scattered to "jumping around like crazy", as the song moves from mellow to frenetic. It's a nice transition that the band take their time with.

Every Passing Hour finds Kontakte stripped down to a tinkling piano, a low and distant electro rumbling, and some aching strings. They are close to Stars of the Lid or Balmorhea here.

And finally the record ends with the epic The Ocean Between You And Me, a slow-growing ten minute song that starts with some conventional guitar riffing (seriously -- is he playing something penned by Peter Buck here, only with less jangle? It sounds kind of familiar.) Strings, more guitar layers, and a martial drumbeat get added in, as the song grows, eventually getting loud and messy with clattering beats.

There is about an hour's worth of music packed into this record, and it is all pretty worthwhile. Granted, i don't think that anyone who is not into post-rock will care about this, but for those of us who are fans of the genre, Kontakte have produced a notable record. I really like the way they use the drum machine instead of having a standard drummer -- i think it adds a layer of depth to their songs, and makes them stand out. i am curious to see where they go from here.

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