The KVB - Fixation/White Walls

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2017-05-19

London-based pair Nicholas Wood and Kat Day having only been working together as The KVB since 2010, but in that short span they've managed to crank out seven albums and a slew of singles and EPs. And so 2017 finds them popping out another such short set, Fixation/White Walls. The uneven release finds them moving from urban cool to briefly bland to utterly sublime.

'Fixation' is a loungy, slow-roller of a tune. Thick bass synths bob past while a sexy guitar strums along. Wood mesmerizingly moans his way through the lyrics, and a skeletal synth melody backs him in the chorus. The song is straightforward yet incredibly compelling. 'Alarms' is somehow the exact opposite. It seems to have the same intentions, but it fails dreadfully in the execution. The bass is too basic and boring, and there's a literal alarm noise that tries and fails to add some drama to the song. The guitar is mostly just noisy licks with a few simple riffs mixed it, and all of it faded and limp. But of the more than half-hour-long EP, these two tracks make up just seven minutes. The vast bulk of the set is four mixes of the other title track, 'White Walls'. They're a mixed bag: two of them are positively stellar, while the other two are merely serviceable.

The first version, 'Invada Extended Mix', seems to be simplest, but also stretches out to over nine minutes long. Cycling synths and vibrating guitars are accompanied by soaring strings. After four minutes of playing around with a small set of very minor variations, Wood's vocals hesitatingly appear at the fringes, but barely impinge on your consciousness, letting the song spin out without disturbing the flow. It's not bad, but for such a long song, more change-ups would have been nice.

'Berlin Version' is a little sparser, and puts the synths louder in the mix. It also clears out some space for Wood's voice, and adds some echoes. It's also not bad, but it's not particularly inspiring either.

'Mark Reeder's Stoned Wall Remix' is absolutely transcendent in its measured, hypnotic fashion. A simple beat backs warbling bass, blissed out guitars, drowsy vocals, and the aforementioned strings, which somehow soar much higher this go round. I have to reach back far to dig up anything similar, but in style and presentation its the twin of 'Greyhound Part 1', a decades-old Moby remix of a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion song. I could listen to this song on repeat all day long, I think.

The 'TVAM Remix' is almost as good, adding a satisfying crunch to the opening, adding a dash of epic, and sprinkling in some melodic variations. It does lean on the strings again, but they work well.

Quality-wise, this release is all over the place. But half the tracks are amazing, and that's enough to recommend this EP without hesitation.

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