Recording information: Invada Studios, Bristol.
Photographer: Jakub Koncir.
Upon its release, Mirror Being's experimental synth instrumentals seemed like a fun way for the KVB to indulge their inner Blade Runner before returning to their regularly scheduled blend of darkwave and shoegaze. However, Of Desire makes it clear that the duo wasn't dabbling: recorded with synths from Invada Records head Geoff Barrow's formidable arsenal, these songs find Kat Day and Nicholas Wood cultivating their gloomy mystique in new ways. As on Mirror Being, atmosphere is everything, with somber interludes such as "Primer," "V11393," and, fittingly, "Mirrors" setting the tone. Meanwhile, "Second Encounter" expands on Mirror Being's creative instrumentation, pairing the chunky synth bass last heard on Air's "Sexy Boy" with spidery guitar lines that are decidedly post-punk. Elsewhere, the KVB translate this impressionistic feel into a newfound majesty on the excellent "White Walls," where synth strings and a chugging motorik beat define the Invada sound, and into surprisingly jaunty pop on "Never Enough," where the shuffling glam rock rhythm and lilting melody lighten the mood without sacrificing it completely. Meanwhile, "Silent Wave" and the sweeping "Unknown" sound even darker than Day and Wood's previous work thanks to their starkness. When the KVB nod to Minus One's more overt rock, however, the results are mixed. In keeping with Of Desire's sleekness, they trade buzzsaw guitars for minimalism, with riffs and feedback shooting like flares on "In Deep" and "Night Games," which shows they still have an affinity with swaggering shoegazers like A Place to Bury Strangers. On the other hand, the whispery menace of "Lower Depths" and "Awake" borders on monochromatic. Given that Wood and Day essentially took their sound apart and put it back together on this album, it's not surprising that all of the pieces may not fit like they used to. Ultimately, Of Desire finds the KVB in transition, moving toward a more inventive approach that delivers some of their finest work along the way. ~ Heather Phares