Published August 27, 2013
Normally I wouldn’t take part in what they call in the trade an InstaReview, where you write a review based on a single listen of an album or song. Ideas and aesthetic judgments on a record can vary wildly after repeated listening. Songs tend to open up and reveal their hidden treasures to those who persevere and exhibit patience. Or the record can turn out to be a steaming pile of cack and you curse the stars for putting yourself through that torture.
With this in mind, I’m going to play ‘Aquarium,’ the latest release from kimono for the first time and type down my immediate thoughts as it plays.
A single track spanning 20-minutes, ‘Aquarium’ starts off with a relaxed, simple metronomic rhythm of rimshot and ride cymbal. The guitars of Gylfi and Alison barely puncture the air as the arpeggio sounds and notes they gently pluck wash and fold over each other.
kimono are taking their time. It has the feeling of a warm Sunday evening spent outside with the equipment playing in the open air, no one around, the only audience a lowering sun and some birds. Everything barely ebbs and flows in the energy level department. It’s not until over five minutes in that the drums change rhythm ever so subtly that you don’t notice it at first.
Halfway into ‘Aquarium’, there’s a change in mood and energy, as the drum style changes and the guitar take on a more direct approach. It’s still fragile in its structure, but we’re seeing formations of simple riffs and note lines appear for the first time.
As we approach the last act of the track, things start taking on what we would call the “classic” kimono sound. Heavy tom-action coupled with guitar harmonics and gentle riffing. But despite the raising of energy levels, as we reach the end of the song kimono refrain from going into climax mode, with everything going hell for leather. Rather, they sustain the song ‘til it feels like it’s going to burst, before gently bringing everything back down to calm peace, finish. Fade out. There’s no manly rock payoff or release of tension in the old-fashioned sense. Tantric prog rock, in other words.
On initial listening, ‘Aquarium,’ is definitely a tease of a song. Its come hither style brings you in and builds up expectations, but doesn’t let you have what you want. Instead it dictates your level of aural enjoyment on its own terms, preferring not to waste its life-force on someone who might not appreciate it.
Some people would pay good money for a relationship like that.
Aquarium EP, 2013. More about kimono here.