The KVB

Minus One

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

London-based duo the KVB are trapped between several worlds. Their sounds are dark and heavy, not unlike the dungeon-dwelling darkwave tones of any number of their psyched-out indie goth contemporaries, but almost every song steers clear of ultimate darkness by sidetracking into overwhelming shoegaze guitar onslaughts or uncharacteristically hooky pop choruses to break up the dour drones. Minus One was the product of a five-day marathon home-recording session in 2011, the album first released as a digital download and then an extremely limited cassette before seeing wide-scale release in 2013. Lazy reference points like Jesus & Mary Chain and Joy Division would be easy to pin on the KVB, and not fully inaccurate. Brittle drum-machine beats and watery basslines often support squalls of inhuman guitar tones, and clouds of dissociative gothy misery float on top of the entire album. Nicholas Wood's murmuring vocals, like many other elements of the album, are hidden in clouds of foreboding reverb, coming off like many of the best recognized forefathers of gothic independent rock. Closer listening, however, reveals the complexities and risk-taking moments that set the KVB apart from any number of Joy Division-emulating bands. The breathless bass and buzzsaw synths of "Endless" feel like a mutant version of the earliest Cure material, but seem at odds with Wood's muted, plainspoken vocal, which sounds like Genesis P-Orridge in Psychic TV's most heartbroken songs of loss. The stereo-panned drums of "Kill the Lights" pulse along in a frenetic gallop, creating an uneasy push that calls to mind Alien Sex Fiend or Ministry in their early pre-metal days. The relentless seven-plus minutes of "Dominance/Submission" are as bright as Minus One gets, leaning on a repetitive drone before being overtaken by washes of fuzz. Entrenched equally in darkwave and shoegaze and even taking on elements of the tape trading and stark fidelity of the noise scene, the KVB concoct something unexpectedly unique, rising above their most obvious influences to make sounds a little more twisted and interesting than the sum of their parts.

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