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Kong — Traders of Truth
(Bandcamp Kongenial, 2023, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-05-14

Traders of Truth Cover art

Nine years on since Stern was released, Kong returned with Traders of Truth in 2023, a further exploration of their blend of heavy guitars and electronics. These eleven tracks are essentially instrumental (97% according to the Bandcamp page), barring a few bits of spoken or sampled voices here and there. Their most common way of building a track is heavy guitars and bass playing a riff while electronics provide long washes of sound and/or sequencer-like rhythmic parts and drums pound away. But they have taste enough to mix it up, sometimes having one guitar playing a rhythmic ostinato while the other handles the riff, sometimes using electronic drums, sometimes bringing the electronics to the fore. The credits aren’t super specific, but we have Mark Drillich (bass, guitar, samples), Oscar Alblas (drums), Tijs Keverkamp (guitar), and David Kox (guitar, samples), along with guest Jan Akkerman playing a guitar solo on one track. “Glasslands” is the most obvious departure from their core style, with relatively clean guitar tones and eerie atmospherics; for much of “Mirrorizon” keyboard sounds (sampled pianos and the like) come to the fore while guitar provides long tones and the bass steps into the spotlight. Aside from Akkerman’s appearance (which occupies only the final minute of “Chaos as Law”), there are no solos to speak of — and not really any conventional melodies. Sometimes I get the impression that these are killer backing tracks waiting for a lead instrument like a violin or saxophone (or even a singer), a feeling which contributes to the idea that this music would work really well as a soundtrack to a movie or video game. This lack of melodic material is generally offset by the density of the electronic sounds that wiggle into the cracks where the riffs have gaps. While some tracks venture into dissonance that may remind some listeners of King Crimson, Kong doesn’t venture into any kind of mathematical complexity. So while I think Kong could do more within their idiom, I can respect that they’ve chosen a particular path, and I do enjoy it.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Jan Akkerman, Kong

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