Nightvision Surveillance: Tools of terror from Rei Nadal’s brilliant film for Primal Scream’s ‘2013’, probably the year’s best video to date.
An extension of our ‘curiosa’ series, this is our daily surveillance portal. We share avant design objects, original art and curations, musical artifacts, and slices of life from the future noir. Nightvision means seeing beyond what is normally allowed to come to light — discovery through darkness. Delve with us.
The KVB: the name cleverly suggests a cloistered faction, the kind who meets in the dead of night, an operation as powerful and covert as the former Russian secret police. That narrative befits the dangerous allure of the music namesake founder Klaus Von Barrel and Kat Day make: a perfect storm of guitars and synths that fuses the force of industrial shoegaze with a minimalist mind and cinematic heart. It’s the kind of psychologically suggestive sound that miraculously converges electronic and rock diehards and Kenneth Anger enthusiasts, lurching them into hardcore hypnosis. Legendary sci-fi punks Ike Yard are remixing The KVB’s ‘Into The Night’ (and Klaus and Kat are returning the favor), while Downwards techno titan Regis has already released an early KVB EP and just remixed ‘Dayzed’ — exciting developments for a young band who literally just released their oneiric debut album, Immaterial Visions on Minimal Wave sister label, Cititrax. Nightvision, long-time KVB enthusiasts, invited Mr. Von Barrel to converse about the band’s newly evolved setup, the horrifying prospect of Current 93 shirts at Topshop, and The KVB’s fondness for synaesthesia — it all relates back to the German philosophical idea of ego tunnels. Also, check out their wholly immersive ‘Reflecting Grey’ Nightvision mix here, and below.
What sort of musical experiences lead to you wanting to create your own project, The KVB?
I had been playing guitar in a couple of other bands and doing some other solo stuff for a while before the KVB and I wanted to make something more based around synths and drum machines. Although, it didn’t take long before I got guitars involved with this project, as well and started to bring in other influences. I just wanted to keep the song writing and production simple and the instrumentation minimal, but also noisy at the same time!
What is the typical creative process behind a KVB track? Do the percussive elements or melodies materialize first?
Most of the songs tend to start around the percussion first, and then I build the rest around a melody, a bassline or a chord progression. I’ve always enjoyed the process of layering songs with different melodies that work well against each other.
What attracts you to a sound?
It’s hard to explain what attracts me to a sound. I do feel sometimes like the music I make is already written and trapped somewhere inside my head and I just need to find the right way to release it.
The KVB sounds like touching _____.
How did the permanent addition of Kat to The KVB evolve your sound and setup?
It changed the KVB from a ‘bedroom’ solo recording project into a live, touring band. Being an artist she has brought a new perspective to the visual side of things, which has definitely helped us evolve, as well as a new influence over the musical direction and on the recordings, too.
What’s the most surprising evolution of your project since 2010?
I think its that we’ve been able to take the project all over the world and play packed out shows to people, and also that we’ve been able to keep up a prolific recording output since 2010. Back when I started this project, I didn’t have any thoughts of where it might lead, or if anyone would even get to hear it!
Are you drawn to esoteric/hermetic writings or art? Some of your titles (The Black Sun etc.) seemingly deal with subject matter hinting at that spectrum.
No, I wouldn’t say we are particularly drawn to that type of literature or art - ‘The Black Sun’ was definitely a slight nod towards that side — along with the Kenneth Anger inspired cover — although I think there has always been a broad range of reference points in the lyrics and titles and this is something that’s always developing.
We share an interest in post-industrial bands like Coil, Current 93, Death in June etc - dark, historically-fascinated bands often misunderstood/miscategorized by traditional music audiences. Do you feel these acts emblemize one of the few true subcultures left?
Yeah, I think they do — it’s a still subculture that is largely made up of genuine music lovers and real alternative people. This could always change though, if Current 93 t-shirts start appearing in high street shops!
'Immaterial Visions' is a great album title that suggests a sense of surreality and synaesthesia. Is that blurring of reality and subconscious crucial to experiencing the KVB?
Absolutely, it’s something we try to convey in our visuals. However, we are also really interested not only in the subconscious, but also in concepts of consciousness and how our perception of reality is constantly mediated by layers of screens, our limited sensory organs and as Thomas Metzinger describes it, our ‘ego tunnel’.
What visual elements do you consider important when presenting your music?
Mainly haptic, abstract imagery which provokes a bodily reaction and immerses the viewer.
What was the first artwork that forever changed your worldview?
I think ‘Forever Changes’ by Love was the first thing that changed my world view; the way Arthur Lee wrote those lyrics (wrongly) envisioning that they were going to be his last and that the world was about to end for him at any point. Paranoid, but beautiful.
Who are some visual artists you consider kindred spirits to what you’re doing sonically?
We’d have to say artists like James Richards, Rose Kallal Mark Aerial Waller, Susan Hiller, Tauba Auerbach, Sara Ludy and Stephen Sutcliffe are our kindred spirits visually.
Your record is out on Cititrax - Veronica Vasicka’s contemporary-leaning label. How do you see the KVB relating to the Minimal Wave legacy, in sound and style?
I’d like to think that we continue the legacy of the original ‘Minimal Wave’ artists in our aesthetic and in our slightly DIY approach to recording music, so far.
On a final note, what city has fascinated you most — and how did it take you in?
Hmm, there are lots of cities that are fascinating to me and we are lucky enough to have been to lots of them in the last year or so: Los Angeles, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, San Francisco, and Budapest are fascinating for different reasons. I still find London a very fascinating place, it’s history and its present.
THE KVB’S ‘REFLECTING GREY’ NIGHTVISION MIX:
What do the tracks contained share with each other?
They are all songs I’ve either discovered fairly recently, or have re-discovered after a long while - they’re all tracks I’ve been listening to a lot over the last few weeks. I had intended to include the original version of ‘At Heart’ by ERAAS, but then thought using our remix flowed well with the other tracks and, of course, would make it more relevant to us!
Where were you when you recorded the mix?
I put it together on a Tuesday morning on a rainy day at home, just after coming back from our brief UK tour supporting Tamaryn.
Where does this mix belong?
Maybe its because we have been traveling around so much recently, but I see this mix as a winter road trip mix. Suited to being played loudly while traveling from one industrial wasteland to another and embracing the grey.
Belong - Keep Still
Silent Servant - Temptation & Desire
Go-Go darkness - Re-install My Heart
Grauzone - Moskau
Eraas - At heart (The Kvb Remix)
Ike Yard - Kino
Von Haze - Mother Mountain
Delia Derbyshire - Ziwzih Ziwzih 00-00-00
Joe Meek & The Blue Men - The Bublight
$15 adv / $20 door. Tickets here.
See you there.
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