Ikarus Records – 17th June 2016
Growing up with musical tastes different from my friend and peers, I found a certain sense of freedom. It wasn’t that I cared more about music than friendships, although maybe that was sometimes the case: music off the beaten track offered something more relatable and opened my eyes – and ears – to new possibilities and ideas. Doing my own thing and finding my own music enabled me to appreciate and celebrate difference. Conformity is so dull. Following trends is mindless.
This eponymous release from Lord Kesseli and the Drums dos not confirm, it does not follow trends, and is strangely out of sync with everything that’s going on not only in the mainstream, but in most other musical circles right now. That’s due in no small part to its stylistic diversity. Dominik Kesseli described as “slowed down electronic club music, or in other words synthetic Science Fiction sound worlds with analogue raging textures.” And I suppose there is that. In collaboration with drummer and producer Michael Gallusser, Kisseli has certainly concocted something rather out of the ordinary.
The first track, ‘Arnold’ is kinda post-rock, but isn’t really completely overtly explicitly post-rock, in that it has dream-pop leanings too, and veers into expansive electro-prog territory – and after the best part of six minutes, I’m not entirely sure why we’re still waiting for Arnold.
‘Siri’ makes nods to Krautrock as it slides into 80s synth pop territory, but maintains a dark undercurrent – as indeed, did much of the music of the day: artists ranging from A-Ha to A Flock of Seagulls via Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones weren’t nearly as jaunty as all that. And it has a bloody great crescendo by way or a climactic finish.
‘Fade’ is a lugubrious monster, half post-punk, half shoegaze, and it bleeds into the skewed gothic country of ‘PureEmotion’. The nine-minute closer, ‘Kid’ is a behemoth of a track which builds – and builds – to a monumental crescendo of phenomena proportions being carried way in its dying seconds on a resonating piano note that glides into the quiet distance.
Because it’s so wide-ranging, one could wonder precisely who the band and album’s audience is. But cliché as it is, any act who make music for themselves first and foremost is on the right track – or at the very least, they’re doing it for the right reason. Musicians should, of course, be fairly paid for their toils, but as Lydia Lunch recently argued, if it’s for money, it’s not art, it’s commerce. If there’s any justice, Lord Kesseli and the Drums will find a broad and substantial audience. But ultimately what matters is that they have produced a distinctive record of quality: a work of art.