Finnish duo K+K-tactics were introduced to me as drum and bass. Drum and bass, eh? Now, I’m not a great fan of labelling music by genre. For a start, I’m not even entirely sure what makes some music fit in certain genres, and this problem is exacerbated by how much genres can change and/or expand on breadth and variation over time, creating new sub-genre after sub-genre. The sub-genre game is one I definitely do not play. Thinking about music in terms of genre can become limiting and create artificial barriers. Even if I don’t like every genre out there, I suspect there will be at least one song or album or artist that I do like from it.
So when K+K-tactics were introduced to me as drum and bass, it definitely intrigued me, for although there is not a great deal I enjoy particularly of music labelled such, I do like some drum and bass artists. But none play music I would expect to see coming up for review on a site such as The Progressive Aspect. (That’s not to say I don’t think this is possible, as I have never thought
of prog as a genre in itself. You can take any genre, and find examples of prog in it. I’m sure there is prog drum and bass out there, and I’ve just not heard it yet.)
It turns out that K+K-tactics is drum and bass in the same way that Bootcut is Hammond organ and drums (or Hammond vs Drums, if you prefer). It is literally a description of the two main instruments, and usually sole instruments, played throughout this album. That said, a comparison could be made about the style of drum and bass played by K+K-tactics, and the style more commonly understood by the label drum and bass. The drum and bass genre is characterised by heavy bass lines built around syncopated funk breakbeats, as is the music of K+K-tactics. That is about as close as the two come, however.
K+K-tactics are Jani Kuorikoski (drums) and Jarru Kanniainen (bass) from prog metal band Depth Beyond One’s, who from listening to their music are a more conventional affair. (Please note, that is “more conventional” and not “conventional”!) All The Best is a compilation of their material, which was originally released between 2006 and 2019. Much of this material has been either remixed, or entirely reworked for the compilation, as such, there is a great deal of material original to this release, and all in one convenient package. Hearth of Life and Drunken Knife Fight are from the Hearth of Life single (2019). The original versions of Omnishambles through Project of Life are from the K+K-tactics / Dum & Brass split release (2016). Earth of Life is a stand-alone single from 2014. Imperative Movement through After the Storm are from Sub Specie Aeternitatis (2011). Shrillweave! and Dearth of Life were originally released by Depth Beyond One’s in 2006.
After a short intro track, Hearth of Life starts off normally enough with an introductory rhythmic buildup that is nice but fairly standard, before ramping up intensity in a post-metal way. It’s nothing terribly unconventional, until suddenly the intensity is exchanged for insanity, with squalls of sound assaulting the listener. The hearth of life is truly ablaze, before being extinguished almost as abruptly as it was set alight. Hearth of Life and the following Drunken Knife Fight are the only two tracks on the compilation to feature keyboards, which means that as unconventional as they are, they are probably about as “normal” as the album gets. It also means this is where the fun really starts! Omnishambles is a bit of a shambles, but it’s a glorious one! It’s a percussive feast with the slightest hint of melody provided by occasional tin whistle. I’ll be honest – I like the tin whistle, but I could do without it. The drums and bass alone are amazing. This is brought to the fore in the following Semi-Nucleonic Android which, aside from a grooving bass line bookending the track, is more or less one huge drum solo. Radium Health is even funkier and revolves around some very nifty bass playing.
Another Life piece (this time a Project) is more tuneful, and I’m not sure if that’s something I like, but after some fairly overwhelming yet thoroughly enjoyable dissonance and noise, something less than a full out aural assault seems lacking. Earth of Life follows, but far more militantly than melodically, and a pleasing retreat from the more normal Project of Life. I love the bass line about three minutes in. This is probably one of my favourite tracks on the compilation, along with the following Imperative Movement (the only track here not written solely by Kuorikoski and Kanniainen).
What follows are some genuine ‘Cookie Monster’ vocals. For all the time people joke about harsh vocals in extreme metal sounding like the Cookie Monster, now you can actually hear some, to introduce the tracks Random Mega Force through After the Storm. Random Mega Force doesn’t really gel with me until about halfway through. I don’t dislike it, but it drags a little, almost to the point where I would skip. I’ve learnt not to, however, as it does end in a very enjoyable way.
Tacts of Life, on the other hand, is a thoroughly enjoyable, though incredibly short, romp from beginning to end. After the Storm I Stare at the Sun is the first of three tracks revamped from Kuorikoski and Kanniainen’s other band, Depth Beyond One’s. It’s also the first to contain any real semblance of lyrics. I wasn’t familiar with the original Death Beyond One’s tracks, so made a point of listening to them. It’s not at all necessary to do so, however, while it is possible to recognise their origin at times, these are definitely very different beasts. I have to say I far prefer these reworkings to the originals, also. Shrillweave! is amazing. It’s also neat to hear what the band sound like live, as the final proper track, Dearth of Life, is from a live recording.
Overall, I gain a great deal of joy from this compilation. Its grooves are infectious, and in recent times I have found it an incredibly effective and efficacious mood restorer. Definitely worth a listen, if you’re willing to throw caution to the wind. Don’t worry about the label; it’s drum and it’s bass, and it’s terrifically good.
01. Introduction (0:18)
02. Hearth of Life (3:35)
03. Drunken Knife Fight (3:21)
04. Omnishambles [2019 Remix] (3:29)
05. Semi-Nucleonic Android Beheading [2019 Remix] (3:40)
06. Radium Health [2019 Remix] (2:56)
07. Project of Life [2019 Remix] (4:29)
08. Earth of Life (4:44)
09. Imperative Movement (4:26)
10. Random Mega Force (3:24)
11. Tacts of Life (1:38)
12. After the Storm I Stare at the Sun (5:18)
13. Shrillweave! [2019 Remix] (3:27)
14. Dearth of Life [Live] (7:45)
15. Intro [Live] (0:36)
Jani Kuorikoski – Drums
Jarru Kanniainen – Bass
Jyrki Hiltunen – Door (track 7)
Janne Riikola – Door (tracks 9 & 15)
Erkki Lassila – Shakuhachi (track 10)
Raine “Rain O’Garry” Oikarinen – Keyboards (tracks 2 & 3)
Antti Karhu – Tin Whistle (tracks 4 & 11), Chimes & Triangle (track 7), Accordion (track 11)
Ilkka Lassila – Narrative Sequences (tracks 10-12), iPhone (track 9), Cheeks (track 10), Lighter (track 11)
Ureb’aruio – Theremin (track 9), Synths (tracks 9 & 12), Claps (track 10), Percussion, Samples, Toys, Additional Noises
Record Label: Progeiitti Records
Country of Origin: Finland
Date of Release: 17th January 2020