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K-X-P reaches beyond reality

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Alma Onali


Arguably the most original act at the Europavox festival in Clermont-Ferrand, Finnish  electronic/trance/KrautRock/freejazz group K-X-P delivered a pulsating performance outdoors on a fine Monday evening. We had a chat with them afterwards.

Dressed in black hooded cloaks, this mysterious group consisting of two reaper drummers, Anssi Nykänen and Ilari Larjosto, and an electric wizard, also known as Timo Kaukolampi, summoned forth a vortex made of music, just waiting for the crowd to let go and follow the undulating soundscape.

The musicians pay close attention to each other on stage, and they should, because the forms of the songs are not carved in stone. The players are given freedom to improvise. You can almost see the invisible strings of deep concentration crossing the stage. A small adjustment, and one of the drummers has changed his hand to play a bit differently, and just like that, the beat stealthily evolves. Clear stops and starts are few, and the meditative spell is not broken with any unnecessary small-talk between songs. The only word uttered to the audience besides singing, was the frontman Kaukolampi’s final scream “Kiitos!” meaning thank you in Finnish.

Combining different styles and inspirations, K-X-P is a band whose genre is very hard to categorise. Electronic kraut-rock, tribal trance with Motörhead-inspired persistent drums, spiritual noise-pop, meditation music, these can all be found in K-X-P’s personal lineage. Every record they’ve made since forming in 2010 presents different sides of a band that has never stopped dead in its tracks.

Cafébabel met up with the master of ceremonies Timo Kaukolampi after their gig.

K-X-P has been called an anti-band. What does this mean?

For example, today we had musicians from three generations. Anssi Nykänen, one of the founder members, was born on the 60’s, I’m from the 70’s, and Ilari Larjosto is from the 80’s. Today was also the first time we three played together at a gig. I’m the only member who plays on all of the gigs. People are so busy nowadays, so we have a changing assembly and with one line-up it would be very difficult. I think it is very important that we are a little bit afraid, and that the audience is a little bit afraid, or a bit confused. There are about 10 rotating band members, excluding me. We might rehearse once or twice with the upcoming line-up. The drummers have quite free hands on stage. The songs are the spine, and then the drummers play their own adaptations of them. When the musicians are changing, every gig is different. There’s always good energy.

What inspires you these days?

I’m listening to so much music that it’s really difficult to say. I think writing music inspires me. Now we’re coming to the full circle of things. We’ve been making songs, and it has been really difficult to execute them live, but now I think we’re in a situation where the records and the live energy are kind of synchronised, so I think that we are making music that we subconsciously want to play live.

Your latest album, III, comes in two parts. The first one was released this spring, and the second part is out next winter. Why?

I don’t believe in long albums. The music has to fit on one piece of vinyl. That’s how I conceptualise it. Vinyl records are also important because they are objects. If it is only digital, it can disappear if something happens to the digital matter. But in vinyl records, the music is locked in an object. It is my mark in history.

I have this feeling that my other albums have been 2 or 3 years behind some of the things I’ve liked myself, and the stuff I’ve wanted to do. This album, III, is synchronized with the stuff that I like now at the moment.

What kind of themes do you include in your music and your lyrics?

Death and rebirth are strong elements, as well as speculation of eternity and spirituality. No one has come to me from the other side to explain what the afterlife is like, but it interests me greatly. I believe the soul is an electric creature in a human being. I’d like to know where th soul goes after death.

Where do these mystical themes and mystical performance come from?

I have never believed in dissing other bands, I’m just saying that there’s very little music out there that makes me really excited. There’s very little music like that out there, because everything’s so normal. Young people who should have hellfire burning in their eyes, making some amazing advanced cutting-edge stuff, they just all became suddenly super lame. They’re playing music that my parents would listen to, if they were alive. We have all these capes and that kind of things, and for me it is like a continuum of science fiction, esoteric themes, and occultism and monks and hermit culture of some yogis and so on.

I want to make something different. I have always wanted to create a perfect band as a whole. Not only as three guys standing on a stage and playing a show. It has to be something more. It has to go somewhere beyond to be interesting to me. I have to make myself and the audience transcend to another level of consciousness. At best, we are succeeding in this. It’s one of our driving forces that everything has to go beyond, it has to have a deeper meta-level.

Is there a message in your music?

There has to be a message, but the message is necessarily not words or writing or philosophy, it is a subconscious message. For example listening to Tinariwen from Mali, you immediately sink in this trance-kind-of meditation, this is one of my goals. So fundamentally, I think reality is boring and horrible. People are raping nature and are cruel to each other in wars, and shit like that. Artists have this pledge to make something more. There’s no artist that should be a businessman. You have to push the threshold and make something new and fresh. This is my opinion. I’m dead serious about it. I can’t fake it. I think I could be more successful if I could fake it, but I can’t. I’m not saying it is the most original thing in the world, but in a way, it is as original as I can make it without totally alienating myself from reality.

What is the mental image of K-X-P like?

You are standing on the top of a mountain, there’s lightning behind you, laser beams are filling the sky, and you are playing this crazy synthesizer or guitar solo and you know, infernal things are going on. At the same time it is deeply meditative. It’s a state of mind.

YouTube: K-X-P - Space Precious Time

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