Kant Kino
We Are Kant Kino – You Are Not
Alfa Matrix, 2010

I first caught wind of Kant Kino on the fourth Endzeit Bunkertracks comp. Amidst all the run of the mill harsh vocals and compressed basslines was a track with…well, harsh vocals and a compressed bassline. But “We Are Kant Kino” stuck out. Maybe it was the chorus’ whimsical melody which called to mind pastoral whistling. Maybe it was the cajones of putting their name in the title of the first track they released. Maybe it was the relative cleverness of the name Kant Kino itself. (“In a world…full of ethical contingencies…one man dared…to be…categorical.”)

In any event, I made a point to buy We Are Kant Kino – You Are Not when it dropped last year. While it certainly doesn’t break any startling new ground, it’s a refreshing take on the dark electro template which has been pretty much ground into pablum by people with far less panache than these Norwegians. Crunch and melody sit in pleasant equilibrium, and there’s an actual awareness of the songcraft underlying classic Belgian EBM. Dancefloor fodder to be sure, but Kant Kino don’t cut any corners and deliver satisfying, fully-fleshed tracks.

Highlights: Everybody talks about how nobody makes “real” industrial music anymore, but at least from a conceptual perspective, it doesn’t get more legit than “Owner Of This House Lives Here”, a track about those who refuse to leave their property in Chernobyl (a club mix of which was recently released on the excellent Electronic Body Matrix comp). Chopped, rhythmic sampling of a band’s own vocals is an old trick, but it works in the context of mid-tempo, relentless chuggers like “Red Rain”. “Stille!” is a skippy enough club track which somehow makes arpeggiated strings seem fresh again.

In addition to a pile of photos n’ stickers n’ such, the limited edition comes with a full-length disc of remixes (plus a rather unnecessary cover of “Control I’m Here”). While they’re not all barnstormers, DJs should find at least a couple of versions they like; I’m taking the Leather Strip and Trakktor ones.

So: a promising debut from an act proving themselves both capable and hungry (they’re currently doing tasty remixes for pretty much everyone and their dog). Well worth keeping an eye on.

Buy it.