KONG
"What It Seems Is What You Get"

(Kongenial)

01. On the Contrary
02. Overcrowd/Underdog
03. Last Hunt
04. Tenfold Right
05. The Impostor Syndrome
06. Glossip
07. Tao of Eric
08. Change 2012
09. March of the Eltanin
10. Musclebound Elf
11. Klzq
12. Factorum Inconstantum

RATING: 8/10

KONG is back! Years after perplexing the world with their groove and sample-laden instrumental stew, the world's only "quadrophonic" band (the four musicians each play in one corner of a room, with the audience in the middle) has been resurrected and, despite a mostly new lineup, has picked up where they left off. On the radar of more open-minded metalheads for their stint on the Peaceville label, which resulted in the cult classic "Phlegm" record, this Amsterdam quartet remains a quizzical unknown to all but the most faithful.

For those who do know KONG's vibe, don't expect a major departure — they're still creating cool, sprawling little mini-soundscapes with peaks, valleys and plenty of jazzy groove and heavy riffs bouncing off drum breaks and hypnotic bass lines. There seems to be a more direct, guitar-oriented approach nowadays, a little more urgent and live, with more soloing, more red-meat rock jamming and less reliance on samples to carry songs (though they're still there, and certainly add a lot of atmospheric elements).

The overall effect remains the same, though. In a perfect world, KONG would score every quirky, fast-paced, impossibly hip indie flick that came along — no, scratch that. KONG would make albums like "What It Seems Is What You Get", and then films would be made around the songs. It's hard not to picture heists, car chases, foreign bazaars, and long, drug-addled drives through Technicolor deserts while in the grip of the band's cinematic sonic sprawl (especially in headphones). Time signatures shift and change with effortless, slinky abandon, guitar melodies come and go, bass lines throb, and the whole thing just cooks with an energy that's as elemental and from-the-gut as it is cerebral.

I'll go out on a limb and say that some of the more curious fans of tangentially metallic prog, from OSI to the works of Devin Townsend, would really dig KONG, given exposure to their subversive, seductive sound. Nothing here is technically dazzling — that's not the point — but they put these quirky elements together in a way we haven't heard since, well, since they did it last time. Definitely something off the beaten path, for those looking for a refreshing break from the ordinary — hard to explain, but easy to love, and highly recommended. Welcome back, lads, and we'll take more when you've got it!

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