Somewhere between the realms of indie pop, progressive, and space rock dwell a group called Lazer Kitty. The Seattle group, who claim to make soundtracks for the cosmos, call their sound ‘acid improg’, and while it may be an oddball heading, it’s a fitting one for the trio’s mixture of spaced-out soundscapes and power rock. And, fear not, despite their mind-expanding prerogative, Lazer Kitty manage to keep their sound grounded enough to make their debut, Ruins, an approachable introduction to their psychedelic experience.
And what an experience it is. While most tracks rely on a highly-effective slow build-up that keeps their sound accessible, it must absolutely be noted that the build-up is a necessary launch pad for this space vehicle to rocket off into outer space and spiral out in search of stars. Usually stemming from a bass groove that you could say represents the solid earth we stand on, Lazer Kitty mound on synthesized (yet highly organic sounding) effects to initiate the thrusters of their spacecraft. But that sounds far too mechanical and far less magical than the actual experience provided on Ruins.
Instead of deconstructing the sound in a disassociated sort of way, let’s instead look at album opener Revolutions Per Minute. The track begins firmly planted on the ground with a solid bass groove before it gets clearance to take off from the tension-filled swell of a violin section. The pressure slowly eases with the addition of light piano sounds flipping the proper switches and engaging the ignition. Subtly proficient drumming then enters quietly and gradually raises its voice as the hum of the spacecraft’s rockets begin to overtake the launchpad, but not the odyssey of the astronauts within. A few more string lines begin to peer through as the rocket leaves the ground and begins to tenderly probe the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. The tempo begins to accelerate and the drumming becomes an exceptionally propulsive force as any tension becomes overpowered by awe, driven by a wide-eyed flute that simultaneously conjures images of cosmic explorers marveling at the stars around them and a gorgeous young barefoot woman slowly traversing a warm, sunlit Garden of Eden.
Lazer Kitty are masters of the crescendo and decrescendo, of rising and falling, both in terms of musical presence and atmosphere. There’s simply no other way to put it. For as full an experience as the ride to the stars on Revolutions Per Minute is, the track also dips and slows at its zenith to allow for an even greater rise as it continues on. Indeed, the track is fairly emblematic of the album – full of bells and whistles that arrive at the exact moment they’re needed and stay only as long as they’re welcome, while bass, drums, keys and synthesizers guide a core, human sensibility towards the heart and mind of the listener.
If there’s a rare flaw to the game, it’s in transitions between the subtle outros of tracks like Television Sickness which don’t prepare the listener for the attack of follow-up Destroyer of Worlds. But this is a small issue (and hell, maybe we’re not meant to anticipate the so-called Destroyer of Worlds), and on the whole, Lazer Kitty’s Ruins is a new space odyssey for a generation that never quite grasped the emotion of the first man on the Moon. By adding dynamics and emotion to their spaced-out brand of progressive rock, Lazer Kitty have managed to bring back that feeling of interplanetary awe that we seem to be missing in our daily lives. And, while their methods of space exploration may not earn them any physical medals, it should certainly earn them your attention.
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