London shoegaze duo the KVB have always lurked deep in the damper, uglier corners of noisy, reverb-coated psychedelia. Their sound grew out of home-recorded sessions where walls of blurry guitars met ancient drum-machine rhythms in a crusty mess of goth-influenced dream pop darkness. Early recordings surfaced on brittle-sounding cassettes and more widely released albums that didn't fare much better where fidelity was concerned. The sonic obscurity played deeply into the band's sound, but with six-song EP Out of Body, they take a slightly cleaner approach. Venturing out of their home studio, the duo of multi-instrumentalists Nicholas Wood and Kat Day journeyed to the Berlin studio of their former Brian Jonestown Massacre tourmate Anton Newcombe to record for a week, with drummer Joe Dilworth (best known for his work with Stereolab) adding live drums to the duo's normally electronic rhythms. The production peels back a few layers of haziness from the KVB's sound, revealing the bounding synths of "All Around You" and the New Order-recalling bassline that drives EP highlight "Across the Sea," Dilworth's live drumming gives the songs a much-needed sense of the organic, lightening up the goth shadows that all but defined earlier albums with his breathing, fluid rhythms. Not until the menacing album-closer "Between Suns" does the band veer back toward their dark goth influences, but this time, Newcombe's production fingerprints are more a factor in the song's sinister feel than anything else. Though brief, Out of Body represents a step up for the KVB in terms of both production and songwriting daring. Still mired in dire, reaching feelings, the band sounds clearer here than ever before, and this clarity reveals some of the strengths of their songs once buried beneath a choking black fog.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas