Album review: Klangstof, Close Eyes To Exit

 

Translated literally “Klang” is Norwegian for reverb and “stof” is Dutch for dust. The brainchild of Koen Van Der Wardt, a man who spent his teenage years isolated in a remote part of Norway, early inspiration was drawn from OK Computer by Radiohead, and the influences are evident in the way the band’s sound grows and develops in each song. Now based in Amsterdam, there’s a cool Scandinavian austerity about Klangstof. Synths are used to paint an expansive backdrop and are coupled with  the clever use of drums, electric guitar and harmonies to create a distinctive sound.

Opening instrumental track Doolhof lays out the basics of their sound, whilst Sleaze hints at the teenage dirtbag in the band with the lyric, “Playing Mario until I see the sunlight. Nintendo is the only thing that makes me smile.” First single Hostage is a real grower – it starts with a simple drum beat, a simple guitar strum and a gentle vocal, but as the sound layers build it gets more complex and deep. There is a true Radiohead-esque moment when, after building and building, the big synth chords change and you get that goosebumpy frizzle. And the Klangers seem to have a knack of making the end of a song sound nothing like the beginning. Take Amansworld. It starts with a languid & slightly slurry vocal – the sort that makes you want to give the boys a few espressos to perk ’em up, but by the end the full force of an energising electric guitar interlude has taken over, and your hard pushed to remember what the song started like. Similarly Ignore Me bleep bloops at the start, but after some inventive synth tinkering, the electric guitar finishes it with a flourish. Not that there’s a sameyness about the tracks. For example, Telephone is the most vocally up front track and We Are Your Receiver is searing and easy to bond with. By the time the last track Island, another massive soundscape, fades away, you can’t help feeling like you’ve really stumbled across something.

Klangsdof are on tour in the U.K. during March and are more than worth a couple of hours of your life if you’re open to being intoxicated by some Scandinavian magic.

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