It’s always a pleasure to have a new album from my favourite Dutch instrumentalists landing in my inbox. This one came completely out the blue as did their last couple, no blitz of press releases or massive build-up telling me that it’s going to be the best album since the last press release I got, no hyperbole at all. It’s a case of here it is, ‘What It Seems Is What You Get’ with Kong. No labels behind them, they did their time with all that and had albums out via Peaceville, Music For Nations and Roadrunner in the past before splitting up and getting back together around founding member Mark Drillich and here we have album number seven to keep us entertained for the next hour or so.
‘Fools Engine’ kicks it off and it’s instantly identifiable, there is only one band who sounds exactly like this. Massive chugging grooves, a keyboard surge that sounds like it has escaped from Sapphire And Steel (NOZL has a Dr Who pulse, listen out for it) and a rugged and progressive driving muscular tune is rolled out. It’s a bit on the progressive side, it rocks and rolls and is bolstered by some underlying samples, most importantly it is now well and truly in your head, deal with it! Looking at a clip on line the band have already been playing some of these 13 tracks live whilst all standing in their own separate corners as they do. I think it was only the once they visited the UK and it was great to actually see them live but now they seem to be a well and truly underground phenomena all but forgotten by many. It’s a shame as these tracks move and groove seamlessly, mixing so many different ideas together and really throwing musical shapes around like trails of light as they go. A heady psychedelic vibe seeps in occasionally reminding a bit of my other favourite instrumental group Ozric Tentacles. There could be some ambient sounds here and an unexpected crow of a cockerel making me think of The Orb, its music that is not easy to categorise you just have to follow it and go with the flow. Most important you have to be prepared to move as it never stops. There’s fragments of everything here, was that a funk inspired bass line, is there an element of jazz about this one? Everything shape shifts, mutates and glows with a warmth about it that flows around the passions of the musicians who are all faultless players.
Some of the song titles may give a clue as to what sort of sonic shapes are behind them but it is your imagination that is going to be the key innovator here as the band randomly unlock different rooms and give you access. The cover art actually is a good signifier to welcome you to Kong’s ever expansive universe. This is not an album to break down track to track and describe in that way, like I said just be prepared to travel with it and be prepared for randomness all condensed into a solid mass. At times bring out the air guitar for example when the jagged chords of ‘Perseverance’ get their hooks in. At others bang your head along to the percussive prowess of new drummer Oscar Alblas and then scratch your head wondering why you can hear birds tweeting and questioning how that even makes perfect sense?
Step on in catch a wave and surf the musical narrative in the clip attached, you’ll be glad you did; it’s a wild ride mama!
(8/10 Pete Woods)