A melting pot of all things guitar, Kyoto Kyoto are a test of the intellect.
Words: Varun Govil | Photo: Hanna Gabler
It’s a cerebral rush listening to Kyoto Kyoto. The London trio often feel like they’re an examiner testing your musical vocabulary; challenging your knowledge of experimental rock, European folk, and jazz; and forcing you to focus intently. While at times the changes may seem left field and the fusions unexpected, the end result is undoubtedly an impressive collection from what is still a very young band.
Opening up the compilation of five tracks is perhaps the strongest offering the band have on hand. Pulsating, melodic and bringing about urges to dance, ‘Fenderr’ presents all the strengths the band has. Confident drums and powerful bass back the band, never getting too ambitious as one might see on a black midi record but still impressive in their own right. Guitars move from stunning glitters to distorted walls of sound at a turn of a dime, showing more sides than a three dimensional world allows. Where necessary, they add just an extra level of exoticism, and perhaps the most notable element of the London band is the Germanic tongue in which the songs are sung. Recounting tales of aged dogs, unrecognised violinists, and passages of self-discovery, the storytelling remains engaging – if you can follow along.
Ambition, though, only ramps up as we move past the opening track of the EP. As we step foot into what was the debut single from the band, ‘Gaacher Blitz’, we find the band attempting to pull from the many currents of guitar music that insular music obsessives will see themselves submerged in. Turning into a monolithic metal beatdown, the band show they’re not afraid of venturing into strange territories. Similarly, follow up ‘Seifart’, while capitalising on the interest of modern post-punk, occasionally resembling contemporaries Squid, sees the band dabbling in tropes of prog jazz.
Building further on their unrivalled scope, Kyoto Kyoto compel you to carry on to see the band striding confidently into the backend of the EP. With penultimate track ‘Grangbeen’, the London trio find the right meld of heavy and hypnotic. With warming verses, not withholding from modulating guitars and free-form bass, the band feel light and effortless. Even when transforming into their snarling beatdowns, they retain engagement as their melodic intuition shines through. As closer ‘Dart Oporto 56’ starts, it becomes clear that ‘Mirror Flexing Jaw’ is a fascinating blueprint of things to come, personifying their art-school-esque mystique and experimentation.