K-X-P comprises frontman Timo Kaukolampi (electronics, vocals and the ‘K’ in the band’s name) plus Tuomo Puranen (bass, keyboards and the ‘P’ in the band’s name) and drummers Tomi Leppänen and Anssi Nykänen (the ‘X’ – for the mystery). While Tomi is a permanent feature of the band and two drummer line-up is a studio only affair- it has been known to happen live on rare occasions. Born from the ashes of seminal Finnish groups Op:l Bastards and And The Lefthanded. the band began with a manifesto: “K-X-P started after I wanted to stop playing in bands,” says Timo, frontman. “It’s the antidote to normal bands. Its an anti-band”
Their latest album is music from a place of perfectionism, fed by some dark times in Timo’s life. “I’ve recently experienced some personal losses – big ones – and so though it might seem like a really long time between albums, but in my actual life it’s more like a split second,” he says.
The record was written in Berlin and completed in Helsinki. Timo travelled to the German capital in search of solitude. “In Berlin I was totally alone, a nobody in the shadows of this city. It offered new challenges for me to break through; a jungle of concrete and, the antithesis of myself: absolute hedonism.” he says. The band recorded in converted cinemas and traditional studios, surrounding themselves with vintage equipment, analogue electronics and – for the first time – analog step sequencers.
Before K-X-P, Timo worked in the Xenomania pop factory, where he composed for – among others – Annie, who appears as a guest vocalist on ‘K-X-P II’. This time around, he’s been more willing to let his natural ability with a pop hook inform his work with K-X-P. “Especially for this record, these ‘pop’ lines/hooks are just coming up – and I can’t act like it is something that I have done intentionally,” he says. “I felt that rhythm of this record needed to be different. More in and out, faster moves. Shorter songs. More punk.”
Most of all, the album is a record for the band that K-X-P grew into on stage. Since releasing their debut album, ‘K-X-P’ in 2010, the band have come into their own live. “That’s where we unleash our power,” says Kaukolampi. “Pre first album shows were pretty static and minimal. Now it’s totally all over the place, exploding energy. Free jazz, drone, noise, pop, rock.” Timo had an epiphany while watching videos of the band performing and realizing he spent most of the show bent over his electronics, “like some bird of prey feeding on a carcass.” So he created an alter ego, a persona inspired by “a lunatic occult reverend, a yoga teacher, John Lydon, Freddie Mercury and Rob Halford. And then I had to compose some music for this creature.”
While The Misfits early recordings, devotional chants, P.I.L. and Bad Brains have been added to the band’s list of musical influences, lyrical influence still comes from a dreaming place. ‘Staring At The Moon’ finds Timo imagining the fusion of spiritual consciousness and an animal body- like a ‘praying tiger, wolf or minotaur’, Magnetic North is inspired by Finland, a place of “northern lights, polar night and endless summer days; heavy metal, Nokia, drinking, the highest suicide rate in the world…”. Elsewhere, Flags And Crosses is inspired by Timo’s father’s experiences in World War II, Reel Ghosts is composed from distant voices found on reel-to-reel tape and Dark Satellites has its eyes fixed upwards.
The band will, of course, be stepping out to perform this masterpiece in 2013.“I feel so good when K-X-P is playing live,” says Timo. “It’s like drug to me. I’m addicted to that noise and everything that surrounds it.”
Where K-X-P’s 2010 debut was an exercise in Kraut-tronica, K-X-P II finds the band unleashing their inner pop deviance. This is an album full of rock ‘n’ roll shamanism, glam-punk madness, grinding dance music, electronic Motörhead techno – and a bit of Krautrock too.
“Intense Finnish post-Kraut / acid house hybrid” – Mojo
“Their music is incredibly rhythmic, their grooves – paranoid dark disco and motorik – deep” – Pitchfork
“Their fantastic new II (due February 11 via Manimal/Melodic/FKLG) is full of monster-truck motorik, gleaming synths, breezy hooks, and enough late-’70s/early ’80s textures to send M83 hurtling back to their DeLoreans.” – Spin