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:
Tracklisting:John Bender - It’s Something To Do
What inspired your Nightvision mix?
Perusing your Tumblr and discovering Annie Anner’s glorious ‘Human Race’. Tuning into Minimal Wave and being left speechless after hearing Moralishe Endrustung’s incredible ‘Ich Liebte Sie Alle’. I lean toward lots of oddball ‘secret history’ music myself, so it wasn’t difficult finding a few records I wanted to play back.
What significance do the songs have you to you and to each other?
I just go with whatever makes my spidey senses tingle, always. What was your process of selecting and mixing the songs?
There’s usually only one or two tracks I’ll be obsessing over on an LP, so I’ll pick those out. To be honest, I’m not a great DJ, as I’m crap at mixing, Don’t sweat the technicals!
What does the mix capture?
Straight-up NCHX remote viewing NY through Nika Vision lenses.
A wondrous mix made exclusively for Nightvision, introduced here by Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson:
01. Eo. A.D. 2600
02. Beaumont Hannant. SYm-phon5
03. Reload. Le Soleil Et La Mer (Black Dog Productions Remix)
04. Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. Sooper Kosmos
05. Celia Green. Lucidity
06. Panasonic. Urania
07. LFO. Goodnight Vienna
08. Robert Leiner. Autopia
09. Claude Young. Multiplicity of Zeros and Ones
10. Jeff Mills. Man From Tomorrow
11. LFO. Tied Up Electro
12. FSOL. Everyone in the World is Doing Something Without Me
13. Microglobe. Trust
14. Slowdive. In Mind Bandulu Remix (Out Mind)
15. Soft Ballet. Ride (Global Communication Dub Mix)
16. FSOL. Antique Toy
17. Woob. Amoeba
18. Luke Slater’s 7th Plane. Shades Amaze
19. Biosphere. Novelty Waves (Arctic Mix)
20. Speedy J. The Fun Equations
21. Octagon Man. Klunk
22. Beautyon. Rustless
23. Autocreation. Snatch
24. Baby Ford. Dead Eye
25. Anthony Manning. Concision
26. Saint Etienne. Like a Motorway (Skin up, you’re already Dead by Autechre)
27. Bradley Strider. Bradley’s Robot
28. Mira Calix. Khala (assisted by Gescom)
29. David Holmes. Johnny Favourite (exploding plastic ambience mix)
30. Bola. Vespers
31. Bandulu. Phaze In (Remix)
‘It’s Midnight in Europe: a mixed selection of favourite electronic records from the 90s. (1990s). You could call this music Electronica, or Ambient Techno, or Post-rave, or maybe even Trance, but whatever you decide upon, it all shares a distinctive feel. There’s a uniformity here that dates the music, a pre-laptop sound. Large boxes and keyboards are being squeezed together. Some of these tracks are almost twenty years old (and getting older). However, as time passes by, many of them also retain a curious freshness, a quality that happily places them outside of time…
It makes perfect sense to start with Eo’s A.D.2600, an ear-grabbing tune that paints a vivid picture of the future from 17 years ago. Beaumont Hannant released some of the most beautiful music of the 90s then vanished. Cheers Beaumont. The Black Dog remix of Reload’s Le Soleil Et La Mer is a melodious wonder, here gently blended into Sooper Kosmos by everybody’s favourite Czech shoegaze/electonica act EoST, alongside renegade academic Celia Green who narrated the intriguing Lucid Dreams CD, released by the equally intriguing EM:T label. Panasonic are up next before their second ‘a’ fell off. Urania offers a pulsating template of controlled power that majestically fizzles to this very day. LFO loom in the background with a future Optimum Logo-tone, while the lurching rhythms and euphoric melodies of Robert Leiner provide a classy European flavour. Across the Herring Pond, Claude Young and the unmistakable, flawless Jeff Mills mix things up a bit before we’re listening to LFO at their feisty finest via the exceptional Electro mix of Tied Up. With the phase-howl of FSOL keening in the distance, Microglobe supply a deep dose of aqua-ambience that almost certainly wouldn’t surface today. When it comes to bouncy percussion, Bandulu clearly take the biscuit with their cracking Slowdive remix, while Global Communication dub Soft Ballet with a breakbeat/bassline combo you cannot tire of. After a Polygon segway, FSOL wind-up their timeless Antique Toy, providing such enjoyment you’ll be needing a brief breather with Woob’s wistful Amoeba.
Suitably refreshed? Then drift away on Luke Slater’s 7th Plane - the distinctive reverb on Shades Amaze is so sweetly thick you could ice a cake with it. It’s all gone hypnotic-frosty as the Arctic Mix of Biosphere’s CHART SMASH, Novelty Waves, supplies exceptional laughing ghost-seagull noises, then the quality breakbeats return with Speedy J and his thematic Fun Equations. A fine slab of analogue is provided by the Octagon Man’s Klunk, while unknown oddity Beautyon leads us into the murky, delicious, contemporary sounding decay of one-album wonders Autocreation. Dead Eye is a perfect, dark UK techno gem glowering alone - you could get lost in those chords forever. Conjuring extra gloom is influential mystery-man Anthony Manning, who manages to coax a miasma of glorious dread using nearly nothing. S-s-s-s-scared? It must be the classic Autechre remix of Saint Etienne, but then the soothing beat of Bradley’s Robot breaks through the fog like a lovely lighthouse. There’s night at the end of the tunnel, as the delayed delivery of Mira Calix’s Khala informs us that Night-time is the right time for tears, and David Holmes unexpectedly pops up with a charming pre-Hollywood moment. To round things off, Bola’s sublime Vespers confuses the mix by being released in the year 2000, but we’ll pretend that didn’t happen and peter owt with the endless shimming haze of Phaze-in. ’
Source: SoundCloud / thisisnightvision
You can also stream or download this tremendous Hague-saluting retrospective mixtape from Bunker allies + veterans Creme Organization here:
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