I by Kaukolampi

Release date: December 1, 2017
Label: Svart Records

I is the debut solo album of Timo Kaukolampi, frontman of Finnish progressives K-X-P. Timo’s main band have experimented with many genres over the years, covering techno, krautrock and beat-driven electronica. His love of techno has kept him busy over the years, not least with History of Techno in 2014. On this new album he wanted to “break all structure” of the music to see if removing traditional structure of songs – verse, chorus, bridge – could lead to something new. The artist concluded that the result isn’t techno – saying “I guess the techno I make does not really suit any genre at the moment”. The result may be techno’s loss but is an absolute treat for the listener of mind-expanding, ambient darkwave electronica. This is a stream-of-consciousness album, five tracks that merge into one soundtrack for the inner spaces of the mind. Far-reaching, expansive, brooding and often sinister soundscapes merge and swirl, creating a glorious way in which to while away the dark hours.

First track ‘The Prodigal Son Of Magnesia’ starts with a deep hum, evolving into a throb that continues to swirl and pulsate, just out of reach. There’s a feel of Vangelis does darkwave, with a definite homage to that composer. I had in mind a scene from Blade Runner while listening to it. The depth and majesty of this track is hard to describe – the listener can get lost in this 10 minute track, especially on headphones in the dark. Glorious.

‘Three Legged Giant Centipede’ has a pulsing beat that turns into major Vangelis love with huge swirling synth sounds that envelop the listener. After the ambience of the first track the beat to this one jars a little at first, but only momentarily. Soon the pulsating rhythm takes over. Track 3, ‘Epiphyte (Requiem For Mika)’ pays homage to the late Finnish film composer Mika Vainio. Its gentler vibes wash over you while a far-off voice soars among the formless music. This beatless track is emotive in feel, darker than before, moving to a brooding climax.

The title ‘Bottomless Well Of The Forgotten Secrets’ reflects the music of the fourth track – and the whole album – very well. Removing structure and traditional form has given Timo boundless scope to create the music. The echoey beat underpinning this more urgent track is reminiscent of early Underworld or dark 80s synthwave pop. The sci-fi theme is never far from the surface: the pace quickens as the track progresses, bringing to mind a journey through a nighttime cityscape.

Final track ‘Public Execution Of The Nodding Lotus Eater’ takes a far more introspective approach. Previous tracks, although swirling to an extent, all have some drive and feeling of pace and forward movement. This is much more esoteric – featuring far-off noises and sounds – and is much slower paced. Indistinct vocal sounds add even more space, if that’s possible, and give the impression of being in a vast cathedral. This is closer to the experimental sounds of Higher Intelligence Agency, capturing found sounds in an expansive environment.

Alongside this year’s debut album Hydrogen by Bardspec, I is another example of a solo outing by a member of a respected band, unafraid to experiment with music different to their usual output. On Hydrogen (reviewed by me elsewhere on this site), Ivar Bjørnson of black metallers Enslaved made an album of heavenly, ethereal electronica. Both albums take the listener to a different plane; both have made my musical year richer. There are strong parallels between the two, despite them sounding rather different. With I, Timo Kaukolampi has made something dark and with mass behind it. Its brooding presence lurks in the shadows, thrilling with every listen.

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