The second band that makes up the foundation of my musical propensities is the Kills.
The Kills are a band I almost decided not to like. They made music with nothing more than an old guitar and cold hard vocals, but also, to my slight dismay, a drum machine. I thought a drum machine was a bit of a cop out and that they weren’t really a proper band. But in the end the Kills’ stark minimalism and the abrasive rawness of their geometrically sequential sound proved to much of an intensely satisfying combination for me to leave alone. I turned from misguided ‘principals’ and ventured into the world of electronica.
The Kills, when they first appeared on that most ambiguous of scenes, the Indie music scene, were carelessly compared other boy girl duos making waves at the time. Apart from a vaguely similar setup and ethos, the Kills don’t share as much as you might think with the White Stripes. There is a sense in which the minimalism; the lo-fi construction and the down beat feel of their sound expresses the essence of a blues appreciation similar to that of Jack and Meg. But generally, to think of the Kills as another one of the bands trying to resurrect Rock ‘N’ Roll from 50’s and 60’s isn’t quite right.
One comparison to the White Stripes, however, can be made. The ‘Stripes second record, one of my absolute favourite records of all time is entitled ‘De Stijl’. De Stijl, or, The Style is an art movement originating in the Netherlands in the early 1900’s and was co founded by a man I love named Piet Mondrian. Mondrian takes the world around him and reduces it to it’s simplest most basic form and produces beautiful minimalist abstractions. I think that this is what the Kills set out to do with their sound. They looked at what they had and took away as much as possible until all that was left was something simple and beautiful. They reduced their world view, their inspirations, down to their core components and set about arranging the few pieces they had left into simple elegant compositions. This is electronica. Electronica is quite an aesthetically unnatural and synthetic sound. But it’s this process of breaking down, reducing, sorting and sifting, then building back up slowly but surely, an abstract, but nevertheless accurate reinterpretation of ideas into delightful patterns of layered sound that makes it so appealing and so satisfying. The Kills started out as black and white as you can get, but as they have progressed through four records, they have furthered the process each time. Each album is denser than the last, filled with more noises, more ideas, more patterns and a bigger sound. But I guess that’s just what happens over time. And it’s good!
When I first heard this song I thought it might take over the (Indie) world. It didn’t, the Kills still remain a fairly obscure fashion. But I got hooked on this particular performance of it instantly. It encapsulates everything I love about this band. Enjoy!