Kilimanjaro - EP Two
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Aug. 17, 2010
Listening to EP Two, the latest installment from the New York-based collective Kilimanjaro one has an undeniable hankering to read/watch Alice in Wonderland. Whether it's the original text or the myriad film offshoots, just something mind-altering about Carroll's entire concept that needs to be studied and scrutinized. Similarly, Kilimanjaro's EP Two is a jarring head-trip with an array of sonic nuances that needs to be heard and seen to be fully understood.
Having admitted that this entire initiative is a venture into the unknown, the has once again something completely different. Venturing away from the instrumental format, the Long Island quartet incorporates spoken-word poetry on "Blue Circle" the album's lukewarm centerpiece. Utilizing the talents of poet Chris Simonds, the song is a foray into the avant-garde and abstract. Beginning with 30 seconds of a ticking clock, Tootill takes center stage at the 45 second mark with a sonorous opening. And then Simonds' puzzling verses step forward. Marrying lines like "we're soldering nerves," and "who is born dry?" it is an inspired and odd composition but not one without authenticity or value.
So how's the rest of it? Pretty darn solid.
"Two Personages," opens and skitters from the very beginning. There's nothing entirely grandiose or staggering about its movement or its execution except for the fact that halfway through everything feels in sync and the band rattles off urban jazz and ambient post-rock with the ease of seasoned veterans. How is it possible that this music is improvisation and free-form? Everything about "Two Personages," says the exact opposite. Inspiring, hopeful and timeless, it's a near-perfect angle to open up an album.
As with most of the band's repertoire, it's far too fleeting and serves as segue to its successor, a vernal cut entitled "Autumn Rhythm," arguably the EP's most consistent track. There's nothing entirely terrific about it, except for the fact that there are no superfluous or unneeded ducks or swoops. The song moves forward briskly and ends in a fitting manner: a single note trailing off into the distant, begging the listener to press repeat. The aforementioned "Blue Circle," follows before the band offers up "Expectation," arguably their best composition to date.
Thought it dawdles at the start and threatens to meander in obscurity, Tootill's horn rises like a siren and rescues the piece from any sort of failure. And then as quickly as it lifted upward, the song fades again, threatening to swim murkily towards dissonance. But then, almost miraculously, Sarcona, Tavarez and Fitzgerald hit their stride and the song lifts skyward bubbling forward with rattling abandon. Accentuated by swirling guitars and a festering rhythm section "Expectation," spews and spits, affording the song's last 80 seconds to be the band's most potent and frenzied finish to date. If this is the sound of a band truly hitting their stride, then brace yourselves, EP Three may shake your sonic foundation.
The lingering "A Puzzle In Color," tiptoes through a maze of airiness and fog and serves as an introduction for penultimate cut "Untitled Graffiti," a teetering and borderline schizophrenic foray into echos and murmurs. Though it is arguably EP Two's weakest offering, dismissing it as filler or something else entirely similar feels far too criminal.
The quartet's challenging and unpredictable sojourn ends with "The Swallow's Tail," a straightforward cut that ---as expected ----- soars and coasts in the middle half. Whether it serves as a fitting conclusion for such an off-kilter album is left in the hands of the listener, but as soon as it ends, one thing is for certain: two EP's into a career they stumbled into, Kilimanjaro are indeed in the pocket and crafting songs unlike very few of their peers.
To boot, they're challenging themselves and pushing the passage in places no one can really predict. That in and of itself is why at present Kilimanjaro remains one of indie music's most compelling new additions. After all, is there any other musical endeavor evolving n this manner? Until said band comes along to dismantle their honor, enjoy this for all its worth. Music this zany needs as many listens as possible.