Geoff Barrow has never usually been a shy man when it comes to telling people that he doesn’t like certain elements of the music industry. Usually, he’s right. So when a band releases something on his label, it’s probably a good idea to sit up and take notice.
‘Of Desire’ is The KVB’s second LP on the Portishead and BEAK> man’s Invada Records and Barrow invited the band to record the album in his studio where they were free to raid his synth collection. On first listen to the record, all of that makes perfect sense. Having begun life in 2010 as a bedroom project for then Southampton-based Nicholas Wood to experiment with ideas around minimal electronica, he’s now brought in partner and collaborator Kat Day and relocated to Berlin. The result is a more filled-in, more expansive sound.
From their name and Berlin location, right through to the industrial 80s aesthetics, there’s a moody cold war feel to the icy shards of synths that permeate each track. Opener ‘White Walls’ spirals into a mesmerising motorik hymn though elsewhere it feels a little one paced and monotonal. It takes single ‘In Deep’ to bring some propulsion to proceedings - it’s the magnificent juggernaut of the record and only ‘V11393’ comes close to packing that punch.
But you get the feeling that’s probably not the point - throughout it seems to be about creating that atmosphere. The touchpoints are well trodden. The minimal synths, deathly drones and doomy vocals have touches of House of Love, Death in Vegas and flecks of Ian Curtis and Movement-era New Order. But if it could be more dynamic, there’s no doubting the precision of the songwriting, as each track digs its way into your brain, lodging itself in the shadows. There’s even hints of Kraftwerk as the album nears its end, with ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Second Encounter’ capturing a darkly glistening cinematic sound. You can already picture the austere brutalist architecture as it plays.