Music

Jazz-Rock's Red Kite Deliver Grooves and Drones in Equal Measure on Debut

Photo courtesy of RareNoise

Their fuzzed-out sonic signature might not be for everyone, but for adventurous listeners, Red Kite specialize in a fusion of music blending the complexity of Ornette Coleman with the heaviness of Black Sabbath.

Red Kite
Red Kite

RareNoise

28 June 2019

Norwegian jazz-rock outfit Red Kite specialize in building the hypnotic, fuzz-laden music championed in the early days of jazz fusion. Guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, bassist Trond Frønes, keyboardist Bernt André Moen, and drummer Torstein Lofthus fuse even parts heavy propulsion and spaced-out atmospheres, an aural fusion best experienced on headphones. The four originals and one cover that comprises their self-titled debut reveal a band early in existence but locked into a communal mission of progressive jams and bold soundscapes.

The album opens with a cover of Alice Coltrane's seminal "Ptah, The El Daoud", an 11-plus-minute affair that charges out of the gate with an explosive psychedelic urgency. The track is a homage to the ambitious instrumental records of the 1970s, a loving take on extended jams that value color and character over self-indulgent solos. With its effusive energy and chant-like percussive pulse, the song feels like a chaotic call to prayer. After a spaced-out intro Frønes and Lofthus keep the beat rock-solid while guitar and keyboard solos craft melodies that invoke angels and demons in equal amount. Coltrane's classic was one of the first tunes the band jammed on, something all too evident in their sonic mastery of time and space.

The absurd title of "13 Enemas for Good Luck" belies its mountain-sized riffs and hammering beats. After two minutes of a guitar-driven atmosphere as thick as a fog, the band clicks in with an off-kilter stoner rock riff that gives direction to the tune's warm and fuzzed-out vibe. The madness takes cues from Ornette Coleman and Black Sabbath, fusing the complexity of avant-garde jazz with the immediacy of heavy metal. Listeners with short attention spans might be turned off, but those with the patience for extended atmospheres are in for a hell of a ride.

At five minutes in length and featuring a more obvious melody/solo structure, "Flew a Little Bullfinch Through the Window" is the most streamlined track on Red Kite. It's refreshing to hear the drums and bass shift pulses between an ominous 4/4 shuffle and a flowing 6/8 groove. As hypnotic as it can be, an album full of unrelenting grooves can quickly grow stale. Hermansen's effect-heavy tone adds a new dimension to the track, doubling a background wave of fuzz with a pin-point articulate attack. The shortest take on the album, but in no way bereft of ideas.

"Focus on Insanity" is the highlight of the record. Structured on frenetic pace and solos with intent, it's intended to allow Moen and Hermansen to create as much musical havoc as they can, pushing the boundaries with distortion-heavy wailing guitars and freak-out keyboard sonics. Fans of the Mars Volta's extended jams will find much to love about this track. Closer "You Don't Know, You Don't Know" takes a polar opposite path, focusing on a slower beat while subdued guitar and keyboard lines snake in and out of the mix. After the chaos of "Focus on Insanity", "You Don't Know, You Don't Know" takes a sleepy and calming path out of the record. The hypnotic bent is precisely what we expect from Red Kite–colorful and patient.

The overall sentiment throughout Red Kite's debut is heavy; bass and drums hammer out a steady beat while guitar and keyboards invoke a psychedelic witchcraft of melodies and drones. Repetitive? Perhaps. Still, there's no denying of the comfort of Red Kite's trance-inducing sonic mayhem.

Related Articles Around the Web
7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.