7 (Or 8)


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7 (Or 8) Review

by Mark Deming

Kinski's ongoing effort to discover the secret of the universe through a journey into over-amped guitar riffs continues with clear and focused determination on 2015's 7 (Or 8). Anyone who has spent time with Kinski's catalog will not find a wealth of surprises here; these songs are built around elemental melodic structures, with guitarists Chris Martin and Matthew Reid-Schwartz riffing hard and occasionally bursting into solo explorations while bassist Lucy Atkinson and drummer Barrett Wilke lay down a backbeat heavy enough to support the heft of the guitar firepower hovering above them. With Kinski, it's always been a matter of how they do it rather than what they happen to do, and as usual, it's the band's distinctive approach that makes 7 (Or 8) click. Kinski is a guitar band that manages to sound thoughtful but unpretentious, playing meat-and-potatoes heavy guitar figures with a touch that's subtly artful, and playfully exploring the often minimal structures of its songs with a sense of purpose that suggests math rockers who accidentally learned how to have fun. The band also understands that guitars are more important than the human voice; most of 7 (Or 8) is instrumental, and the tunes where Martin does step up to the vocal mike show he says as much with his distortion pedals as his lyrics, clever as they may be. While the epic-length closing cut "Bulletin of the International String Figure Association" offers a change-up with its slow build from quiet contemplation to amps-at-11 strength, even that tune fits in with Kinski's world view that all mysteries will be answered if you just hit those three chords hard enough. And it's that belief that makes all the difference in the world; 7 (Or 8) is the messy but precise sound of true believers in search of the Crunch that Transcends All, and there are moments where they come impressively close to actually finding it.

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