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Kinski - Airs Above Your Station

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Artist: Kinski

Album: Airs Above Your Station

Label: Sub Pop

Review date: Mar. 10, 2003

Too Much of a Good Thing

Upon first listen, it’s not too hard to guess Kinski’s influences: a little Mogwai here, a little My Bloody Valentine there and, of course, a liberal dash of Sonic Youth. Despite this appetizing recipe, Airs Above Your Station is more Wonderbread than focaccia. The token swell to storm that has come to characterize the post-rock set seems mailed in here; the build-ups are never ominous, the explosion of guitars never reach the near cacophonous bliss that their heroes so effortlessly visit.

Kinski (presumably after Klaus, star of many Werner Herzog classics) are wonderfully produced and, as a band, combine to make a focused sound. Yet, for all their skill and efforts, they can’t seem to justify the length of their songs. I love epic artist endeavors, but I’m also extremely thankful that David Foster Wallace has an editor who makes him put his pen down after 400 pages of footnotes. Likewise, Kinski seem perfectly content to strum the same line over and over again, as if they were on autopilot and the producer was asleep at the soundboard.

I should clarify that Airs Above Your Station is no dud; “Semaphore” and “I Think I Blew It” are strong and innovative enough to make Kinski’s time in the studio worthwhile. “Semaphore,” from its borrowed “How Soon Is Now” opening to the cultivation of energy at the end, makes it one of the album’s rare showcases of Kinski’s musical ability and creativeness. “I Think I Blew It” is also a treat – a slow and patient study not unlike Glass’s work on Powaqqatsi or Tangerine Dream’s score for Near Dark. “I Think I Blew It” is the closest thing to a headphone classic that Kinski has ever done and furthest from the post-rock trappings that they often fall into.

Yet, for every excellent track on Airs Above Your Station there are two fillers. When the bass and electric guitars kick in on “Rhode Island Freakout,” I was thrilled. But after three and half minutes of the same riff, I discovered that it was a 12 minute song that reached its peak a while ago, and I was now biding my time until the track ended. Such repetition is a problem. Sure, there are occasional breaks from the norm – just not enough to justify any study or involvement. The same problem haunts the album’s opener “Steve’s Basement.” While the quiet and atmospheric opening minutes are ace, the last half of the song is cursed with textbook distorted guitars. A band like Kinski, who obviously have skill and have done their homework on the genre, simply don’t bring anything new to the table on Airs Above Your Station.

By Addison MacDonald

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