Rock is a genre that made a name for itself by being mouthy. So what would happen if the lead singer -- who so often dictates the attitude of a rock band -- were suddenly to disappear, leaving the music to convey its message without language, in an egalitarian symphony of electric guitars?
Airs Above Your Station, the third and latest release from Kinski, is one possible response to that question. The dynamic among bandmates operates like an ecosystem, guitars succeeding each other like phases of the day, rotating around whammy bars as if they were the North and South poles.
Like most records from this Seattle band, Airs could operate as the score for a film set in the expanse of space or as background music that draws deep thought from middle-schoolers who got high before the field trip to the planetarium. Wavering guitar feedback symbolizes the struggle to survive on a new planet or just the inevitable grounding that will result from five detentions received in the past three days.
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The songs are long (sometimes more than ten minutes), ambient tracks that change personality in less than half a minute, making it a bit difficult to differentiate between them. When a human voice steps in ("Rhode Island Freakout"), it's a jarring but welcome reminder of the difference a human component makes. The band seems to cover more new ground when it veers away from a traditional "rock" sound and toward the psychedelic. It's music for audiences who are quiet and focused, like the kids who were moved by the planetarium visit, then grew into adults slowly nodding their heads and bodies in dark venues lighted by candles and burning ash.