K-X-P come from Finland, the land of snow, reindeer, very attractive friendly people and Father Christmas. They are led on and off stage by the enigmatic Timo Kaukolampi. As a focal point he holds a microphone in one hand and plays synthesizers and twiddles a bank of knobs with the other. Occasionally he stuffs the microphone down the front of his sleeveless t-shirt to stab at his instruments with more jagged vigour while rocking to and fro almost in an insane way to the mesmerising rhythms. Timo controls the stage with his wayward, flopping fringe and occasional yelps drowned in echo while Tuomo Puranen stands motionless picking at his bass guitar giving every track a throbbing underbelly; and the drummer Anssi Nykänen dressed tonight as a druid or the grim reaper blends his tribal floor tom heavy beats with digital sequenced rhythms.
It reminds me of Add N to X, early Kraftwerk before they had dispensed of their instruments, and also Neu!, Zombie Zombie, and a less frantic and more enjoyable Suicide.
Together K-X-P make deep and intense live music embodying the ingredients of all things krautrock but with a sprinkling of lighter sounds reminiscent of analogue-driven synth pop and a more contemporary sound that has been touched by 25 years of electronic dance music and particularly IDM.
The most commercial sounding track on the album was a live favourite with the mainly male audience. Pockets is structured more like a traditional pop song with Timo Kaukolampi’s singing verse, chorus, verse, chorus. I could see people around me dancing away while singing along… “what’s in my pocket!” While the effervescent darker mood was replaced with a lighter, uplifting beat, Pockets even includes a middle eight!
But for me it was the darker, more intense moments that made the live show one to remember. A personal favourite is the wonderful 18 Hours Of Love which starts with a throbbing sequencer reminiscent to a slower burning Fanfare For The Common Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Goldfrapp’s catchy Ooh La La. But 18 Hours Of Love drives on like a diesel truck ploughing its way through a dark, dense night.
In good rock n roll tradition K-X-P made their audience wait for the show to begin. But when it did those that had gathered on this cold January evening in north London were treated to a great show, and one that will stick in my memory for some time to come. If krautrock is going to make a comeback in 2011 I have no doubt K-X-P will be at its spearhead.
K-X-P UK & Ireland Tour Dates:
20 Jan DUBLIN, Button Factory
21 Jan KILKENNY, Cleere’s Theatre
22 Jan CORK, Pine Lodge
23 Jan CORK, Crane Lane Theatre
24 Jan GLASGOW, Captains Rest
26 Jan LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club
K-X-P’s debut album is to be released in the UK on 21st March on the excellent Norway-based, Smalltown Supersound label.