Weyrd Son Records
It’s probably an exaggeration to say Vancouver’s dark music scene is thriving, but records like Koban’s VIDE are a welcome reminder of how much interesting music is getting produced in the Terminal City right now. The duo of Brittany West (also of the excellent dark punk act lié) and Samuel Buss have been working the intense and desperate end of drum-machine powered post-punk for a few years now, but this latest EP shows them ratcheting up the tension and taking on an even greater sense of grandeur .
The six songs on VIDE are largely driven by West’s bass guitar, which thunders down the winding corridors outlined by Buss’s squealy deathrock guitar. While quite dominant sonically, those two elements feel like they have a lot of room between them, space occupied by duelling vocals, the occasional bit of synth ornamentation and workmanlike drum programming. It’s not a wholly original formula but it’s executed with such grit and go-for-broke commitment on the titanic “Cold Wind” and the high-speed collision of “Delirium” that it never feels like Koban are treading the exact ground as any previous artist in the post-punk spectrum. It’s that intensity that serves them best, rocketing them past limper, more affected practitioners of the style.
Especially on the appropriately titled final track “Standing on the Edge”, it feels like Koban are on the cusp of something very large. Of the moments here where the band assumes a regal-goth posture (“Rappeler” has that Xmal Desustchland style noble-ennui down pat), “Edge” feels somehow more stately and full of menace, towering over the preceding tracks as West howls its slowbuilding climax against a descending bassline. By its conclusion they almost sound like a different band than the one that kicked off the EP with “401a”, trading a fraction of the latter’s punky sneer for a ten-fold increase in majesty.
VIDE really does feel like the work of a band who are digging deeper than the surface level goth signifiers that make-up a lot of contemporary dark genre music. It’s a rich vein of influence to draw on, but one with it’s own pitfalls; namely the tendency to abuse it for an easy pop from the black lipstick crowd without ever engaging with its substance. Koban are doing it right, and the harder they go, the larger they sound, aggressively expanding their borders with each passing release. Solid stuff, recommended.