tue 23/07/2024

The KVB, Ramsgate Music Hall | reviews, news & interviews

The KVB, Ramsgate Music Hall

The KVB, Ramsgate Music Hall

The Darkwave duo bring light as they showcase their new album

'Techno drowned in guitars'

Without wishing to repeat myself, small venues almost always work best. The intimacy they offer heightens emotion and increases impact while breaking down the barrier between artist and audience. There's a mathematical consideration, too – fewer people means fewer antisocial arseholes no matter which way you divide it. And so I find myself back in East Kent’s best venue, among some of Ramsgate's most upstanding, to see the swirling, melodic storm of Berlin/London duo The KVB.

First though, there’s the surprisingly engaging prospect of support band M!R!M.

Also a duo, M!R!M create a haunting sound that is full of 80s pop Goth tropes with a colossal Casio kick – my notes say "Bontempi Cure" which sounds like an insult, but really isn’t meant as one. In fact I liked it so much, I might even try to patent it myself as a keyboard preset. Cracking on gamely through some slight sound niggles, the pair managed to conjour more reverb than I’d have thought possible for a small room to hold before heavy arpeggios and sheets of guitar emerge, signalling 2014 single “Reel”.

Distortion and reverb create a hollow in which delicate tunes can nestle

While the rough melodies of M!R!M exuded an attractive, naïve charm, The KVB are an altogether more brooding prospect. Formed in 2010, Nicholas Wood and Kat Day released Of Desire, their fifth album (and second for Geoff Barrow’s Invada label) in March. Recorded, there’s a tension to their sound, which whips and stretches almost to breaking-point, seemingly held together by little more than dense layers. The phenomenal acoustics and sympathetic sound desk mean that, as the pair launch into the first three tracks from the LP (“White Walls”, “Night Games” and “Lower Depths”), the live sound is the same – only more so. There’s an extra thrill in the physical proximity – we are battered by the noise they make. It’s not all about noise, though: distortion and reverb create a hollow in which delicate tunes can nestle.

The KVB often get lumped in with the Shoegaze “revival” or the nu-psyche movement, but in actual fact, they have more in common with bands like France’s Vox Low, who marry electronics with psychedelia and the metallic edge of leftfield dancefloors. The drone here is carried forward by drums with an urgency that forces limbs to move – this is basically techno drowned in guitars.

More tracks from Of Desire follow, including the JAMC-like squall of lead track “In Deep” and the haunting electronica of “Awake”. It’s hard picking highlights as there are so few dips, although a cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” is notable mainly for two reasons. Firstly, we’ve now reached a point where as many people are likely to register it first as a cover of Primal Scream’s “Loaded” rather than the Stones’ classic, and, secondly, it’s frankly not as good as their original material.

Minor niggles aside however, there is a huge amount communicated with an incredible efficiency as The KVB cut a clear path past reason and head straight for the part of me that is home to simple emotions. In short, they make me feel alive and happy. Finding an explanation as to why, is what I probably should do, but I’m happy to stick with “because MAGIC!” For the moment at least, this is one rainbow I’m in no hurry to unweave.


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