Reviews + Opinion
Talk about a low profile—KILN makes Thomas Pynchon look like the worst kind of media whore. But hopefully the group's publicity-shy reticence won't get in the way of listeners finding out about KILN's third full-length for Ghostly International. Truth be told, the new release doesn't sound all that much different than the earlier ones (2004's Sunbox and 2007's Dusker) and even the cover image plays like a variation on an earlier theme, but such things hardly matter when meadow:watt retains the instantly identifiable sound signature Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison, and Clark Rehberg III have been refining since the group's 1993 formation. Once again we're presented with exquisite soundsculpting, in this case nine settings, and don't call them ambient settings, by the way: there's far too much dub-wise rhythmic heft in these multi-coloured mirages for that label to meaningfully apply. Headphones are truly necessary for the music's textural richness to be appreciated. In a given track, sounds sourced from guitars, piano, drums, keyboards, and field recordings weave into enveloping electronic panoramas of incredible detail and density. And it's worth noting that while KILN's music is marked by depth and sophistication, it's neither difficult nor inaccessible. Instead, the listener is able to easily warm up to the material—the transporting dreamscape “Moth and Moon” and jaunty serenade “Jux” two representative examples—and luxuriate in its electro-acoustic design, especially when it blossoms so organically. An earthiness pervades some of the tracks, too, such as the languidly funky “Star.field” and “Willowbrux,” in a way that can't help but boost the music's accessibility. There's no soloing per se; instead, instrument fragments blend into an abundant whole that cumulatively hints at melodic patterns more than explicitly spells them out. In that production regard, KILN operates like dub scientists, even if the group's music isn't dub in any traditional sense of the word. A few heavy-hitters appear as well, among them “Kopperkosmo,” whose punchy groove is but one of the innumerable tactile sounds that catches one's ear during this ultra-scenic travelogue. Here and elsewhere, meadow:watt proves to be a ravishing and stimulating feast for the ears . -Textura
Meadow:Watt is an apt title for Kiln's second LP with Ghostly International. The meticulous commingling of warm, organic textures and modern electro-manipulation have been the band's hallmark for over a decade as they've evolved from creating long, ambient tone pieces to the more rhythmic works explored on their 2007 release Dusker. They have a knack for distressing sounds made naturally and for naturalizing what is synthetic, resulting in a modern production that always manages to retain a certain earthy glow. Throughout the album, guitar and synth tones appear then gently burn out across the wide sonic landscape as bits of unidentified percussion crackle and buzz like some malfunctioning digital bonfire. Always detail-oriented, Kiln are a band who rewards those wearing headphones, adding subtle layers throughout their songs which might be missed on a more casual listen. Like sunshine during a rain shower, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact mood and climate of this album which is occasionally confusing, but which is also part of its charm. Like some sort of malleable sonic cloud, its atmosphere adapts to you mood as much as it helps to alter it. Much like the band who created it, there is a certain aura of mystery surrounding the music and it requires some effort and time on the part of the listener to reveal its personality and engage with it. Kiln are not a pop band, and the nine songs here are subtle and slow to develop. Still, Meadow:Watt is decidedly more melodic than much of the band's previous output and it finds purchase with buoyant tracks like "Pinemarten" and "Acre," which hum and thrum along dreamily peppered with odd little found sounds and carefully placed guitar riffs. Amid the tranquil beats and gentle lulls are some truly beautiful moments resulting in a a very complete, if enigmatic album. Lovingly crafted and skillfully made, Meadow:Watt is a subtle but ultimately engaging work in the ever-evolving arc of Kiln's career. -All Music Guide
Sound alchemist trio KILN creates a vivid pastoral tapestry with their latest release meadow:watt on the Ghostly International label. Drawing from an amalgam of soundscapes, the album is dream-inducing, ambient, and entrancing. Associative music, like this, does connote a half-conscious wandering. These sounds are familiar, innate, yet thwarted and off-kilter, much like recognizing someone in a dream who you know to be your friend and you can't recognize her features. meadow:watt evokes a poignant, abstract reverie that surely taps into the subconscious phase. I imagine Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison, and Clark Rehberg III are like lepidopterologists, or paranormal investigators, hunting down the fleeting presence of an almost extinct butterfly or the ancient Egyptian pharaoah Tutankhamun's spirit. Once found, they capture, record, and log their findings into an extensive catalogue of clippings. This is definitely the approach I see with the subject of a meadow, and certainly the idyllic presence is heard within the filters of these tracks. The two opening tracks, "Roil" and "Pinemarten," are crisp, acoustical scores panning out into a dense groove. "Roil" whips drums that are marinating in shakers while "Pinemarten" introduces the first presence of the sonorous woodwind flute crooning by. Hollow drums kick-pulse as a cicada trills, a deep acoustic bass purrs and euphoric guitars laze over. As initial tracks for the entire soundscape, they bring in the warm tones apparent throughout. The way the recording translates through headphones begs for a larger sound, and I can see this album living up to its greatness in a sonic-proof room that allows each wavelength to wash over the body's senses. "Star.field" opens with a scraping, side-ways bass line that is seismic, lop-sided and lagging, only to be saved by dub flowers. The effect is chemistry-altering, and the cells of the track sound as if they are entering mitosis, dividing slowly into their own being. "Willowbrux" serves as the key conceptual piece to the LP, with whispering organs and hollowed tube puffs consistently supporting a most pleasant piano. Static radio waves give fuzzy support and the feeling as if we are laying in a field wasting away the hours in radiant sunlight. Across the meadow, there are creatures that lurk and tussle between bushes. "Kopperkosmo" and "Moth and Moon" spur visions of bog frogs and delicate moths fluttering on wool. "Kopperkosmo" begins with guttural vibes and looped ticker tape clicks. This feels as if the sounds are recorded from a distance across the room, as it spreads out almost too thin. "Moth and Moon" glides by, a timpani drum kit softly pulses as spritzes of feedback whiz on. The sensual energy is tamed within the frames of this energetic work. A sultry, crackling hazy guitar brings in the seductive lip biting sway felt here. "Jux" is the shortest piece on the LP running at almost four minutes of consistent thumping overladen in auric flutes. This brushes up the last two tracks nicely as a quick trip. With "Acre" and "Boro" the components from the beginning of the album resurface. "Acre" climbs with hip-hoppity bass lines and percussion reminiscent of twigs rubbing against each other. It's a plush pillow, a velvety sound bed for us to almost lay our heads. "Boro" revives the quavering flute player that leads us out of this hypnotic trance. A sylvan clarinet whimpers toward the final note into consciousness. As a whole, this experimental list is cohesive and beautiful. Each song hits the same musical vein, and that might be this LP's crack in the armor. While it is a masterpiece, what lacked is an exploration of a darker nature, or even a hint of the dangerous. Not every meadow is ideal. -Buffablog
I was immediately sold on my choice for this week’s review when I heard and excerpt from KILN’s third full-length album, meadow:watt. In a way, the album is very straightforward, kicking off with ‘Roil’ and acquainting us with the sound of this album, which remains, for the most part, constant throughout. Imagine the kind of gritty, grimy textures from Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Ghosts I-IV’ reworked into steady and enjoyable forms reminiscent of E*Vax’s ‘Parking Lot Music’. Enigmatic sounds and instruments attack the ears from all sides in a percussive fashion. An unaccented pulse exists amid the chaos, allowing the listener to nod along and get lost in the jam. The energy is both dark and cool, emphasized by subsonic bass lines. And by the time it’s all over you feel as if you’ve stepped out of a pitch-black theatre only to enter another. I would love to hear this as a soundtrack to an experimental documentary on insects, the kind of film comprised of little dialogue, mind-blowing time lapses, and incredible shots of the wildest creatures you’ve never seen. KILN’s sound retains these organic qualities brought out by the use of acoustic drums, found sounds, and electric guitars, all filtered through a Neve 8068 console, giving it that crisp, clean, and almost inhuman vibe. Songs like ‘star.field’ put you in the foreground of a busy and booming landscape, perhaps a thriving utopia where you are a stranger, inside the tunnels of an ant colony, or maybe a factory floor comprised of intricate assembly lines where robots reproduce. There’s a lot to see with these instrumental songs; infinite things to imagine, which is why it works so well. One of my favorite tunes toward the very end of this album is ‘Acre’, because it introduces a new mood to the compilation. It’s bright, laden with warm samples of white noise and other distortions that replicate the sensations of a rainy day, but not so rainy that it would be upsetting, rather acting as the perfect accent to the afternoon. At 3:20 minute in the clouds part to let golden rays color the tops of grey buildings and green mountains. The last track, ‘Boro’ also retains this same pleasant feeling but with those classic mellotron strings. Well, I don’t really know how to put this any other way: meadow:watt is one of the best things I’ve heard in months. The production is flawless, the composition is impeccable, and the instrumentation is mind-boggling. There is a hypnotic quality to each of these songs that keeps me engaged and unable to skip to the next one. I highly recommend this album to anyone who is interested in electronic instrumentals or movie soundtracks, especially percussionists who are unfamiliar with electronic music… 10/10 -Violentsuccess
Kiln’s mystique runs deep as the Mariana Trench and wide enough to stretch from their East Lansing home to Key West—folded in half. Picture it as a pumpkin pie graph: A sliver of the trio’s allure lies in their refusal to play live, not even once since coalescing in 1994. Uncertainty about Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison and Clark Rehberg’s exact roles in the project forms a slim wedge. But the lion’s share of filling resides in their command of texture, tone and time. Nodding to multiple genres without bowing to any, Kiln marry digital and meatworld sounds so adroitly on Dusker that identifying sources is both irresistible and impossible. Still, we can approximate. A sterling example of contempo IFM (intelligent fuck music), three-minute opener “Fyrepond” is a biosphere in itself, a microcosm where even claves take wing. Kiln claim lineage so quickly and effortlessly that it might just be unintentional, with a muted, general exotica beat and two-note, chorded marimba themelette that evokes Martin Denny’s “Quiet Village” and the Chakachas’ “Jungle Fever,” even before the first of myriad glitchlings dart across the sound-pool. Peripheral hisses and rasps suggest additional lifeforms as a bass line sturdy enough for hip-hop snakes in, then sinks, rippling under the surface just long enough for a quick, delayed-percussion romp. A lovely wisp of a piano part sparks a slew of subsidiary themes. No matter how much is happening, “Fyrepond” never seems cramped. Space is its constant; the sound is all tease. If ever a track demanded remixes… -Paperthinwalls.com
Michigan electronica three-piece Kiln have done a terrific job on this latest full-length for Ghostly International. The first thing that strikes you about Dusker is the sheer depth and warmth of the sound palette these guys use. 'Fyrepond' is a wonderfully rich piece of post-IDM sound design, opening the album with some of the most perfectly proportioned beat programming you're likely to hear anywhere in the contemporary electronica scene. Same goes for 'Rua' which has some especially ear-pleasing spatial dynamics, panning In an almost balletic fashion. There's more to this record than fancy sound sculpting though: you'll hear a strong melodic current running through compositions like 'Airplaneshadows' and its companion piece 'Korsaire', while 'Flycatcher' takes on a more reduced, atmospheric aesthetic, bringing to mind the tuneful minimalism of Dub Tractor, Opiate or Skyphone. There's a warmth and physicality to Kiln's production work that sets them apart from so many of their contemporaries. Despite sounding utterly digital and highly technical in execution, Dusker still manages to come across as somehow organic and tangible. Lovely. -Boomkat
Cataloging the sum-total of manipulations in a given piece would fill pages; for brevity's sake, let's simply say the songs' insistent grooves hurtle forward amidst incessant swirls of tears, wipes, clicks, pans, and ripples, with such effects given further dimensionality when billowing echo is added to the mix. The opening four songs generally hew to the style of Sunbox—oceanically textured, bass-driven dubscaping (“Rustdusk” a perfect exemplar)—but a radical shift arrives with the fifth, “Airplaneshadows,” when pitter-pattering piano lines make the piece resemble a countrified shuffle as much as a prototypical Kiln tune. Of course, the group's customary textural focus quickly emerges but the song's sunlit placidity comes as a startling yet refreshing change nonetheless. That entrancing mood carries on into the peaceful setting that follows, “Flycather,” and the equally arresting “Arq.” Dusker gradually pulls back towards the group's signature territory (clearly instantiated by a brief ‘rebuild' of “Airplaneshadows” titled “Korsaire”) with the panoramic guitar-based sweep of “Sunsethighway” and “Tigertail.” Nowhere is the group's attention to detail more evident than on this beautiful closer when soft ripples spill across the stereo field. -Textura
East Lansing's own Kiln started work on "Dusker" - just released on Nov. 13 - back in '04, right after their "Sunbox" EP came out. The whole project was slow to cook, and sounds it; it's a much weightier item than the poppish "Sunbox" and even more orchestral than 2003's full-length "Ampday." Post-modern electronica is just that: it's abandoned the traditional architecture of music and builds abstractions out of the simplest sonic elements - all of which is constantly goosed by technology. This means, of course, any undergrad with a Mac can decide he's a composer. But Kiln - Kirk Marrison, Kevin Hayes and Clark Rehberg III - are the real deal, with an international reputation. They have a long resume, too; the trio was formed back in the '90s, from former members of Waterwheel and Fibreform. Never seen 'em live? Neither has anyone else. Kiln exists only in the studio, and that's one of the reasons why "Dusker" won't cut it on your boombox or car stereo. A high-end stereo tuned to the room? Maybe. Some nice, high-res headphones? Now you're talking. It's an audiophile's genre, and Kiln's magic lies in creating a sonic wash and overlaying it with galaxies of sculpted, pearly sounds, many from guitars or keyboards, synthetically generated tones, or samples from sources hard to identify. "Airplaneshadows," which seems to be getting some Internet buzz already, is the CD's most orchestrated track. Captivating without being conventionally pretty, it's a smorgasbord of sounds, assembled only for their sonic synergy, bits of melody and rhythm shifting like light on a landscape. Hip-hop, and its fundamental reliance on beats, has also been the best thing to happen to electronica since Brian Eno. Take away the rhymes, only beats remain - the irreducible component of pop's ultimate deconstruction. It's Kiln's masterful understanding of beats that rules "Dusker" - lots of real crunchy ones, some accruing and dissipating like space dust. It's that constantly shifting beat landscape that rescues "Dusker" from being techno-dance music on the one hand or hip- retail Muzak on the other. -Lansing State Journal
Half an hour of sunbaked warmth and solid melodies. there's a slightly hallucinogenic quality to KILN 's sound - sometimes it's as if they're heard through ears situated just under the surface of water (is that the flitting of a dragonfly up there?) at other times it's like when you're somewhere so bakingly hot that it has an effect on acoustics similar to the visual wavering of the middle distance. here i sit on a blustery sunday in english springtime and my ears are telling me i'm on a mediterranean beach in mid-summer. strange. Sunbox’s events are driven along by lovely little glitchy rhythms that might just be the sampled sounds of ants trying to build sandcastles.
Instructions: 1. purchase this cd; 2. pack cd in summer bag prior to making a mercy dash for somewhere appropriately hot; 3. on arrival press 'play'; 4. lie back and luxuriate. (may be advisable to apply a little sunblock wherever you end up listening to this, even croydon on a rainy day...) -Absorb.com
Barely surpassing the 30-minute mark, KILN, otherwise known as Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison and Clark Rehberg III, has a lot of shit to take care of in a short amount of time on this, the group's debut full-length. That's where texture comes in. Listen: Pop, tap, click, crinkle, sway, nod, spiral up, release, clink, tinkle, shiver, swoosh, ahh, uhh, come and lay with me, swoon, under the sun on this grassy knoll, now under this tree in the shade, shwoomp. Listen to the turning wheels beside you and the UFOs up above. Hear the train go by you, that muffled train whistle, swish? That does not exist right now, just a racing pulse and a calm mind - oh, and a rubber band. The end. -Boston’s The Weekly Dig
I don't think that there is an instrumental piece that has moved me more than Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking Of The Titanic." Its utter wooziness and mournful drifting perfectly depicts that hopeless night in the Mid-Atlantic almost better than a painting could. One feels the gentle bobbing of the icy sea through the protracted flourishes in the sting arrangement. Blackest night is a low pitched drone. In this way, the sonics create a tapestry of a time and a place. All music has this desired effect to a certain extent. All of our senses are bound into each conscious moment. We cannot have a sound without a sight just as much as we can't eat a pear without feeling its touch on our tongue.
In this regard, the Detroit, Michigan electronica trio KILN has created an all inclusive six day, seven night Great Barrier Reef getaway. A constant throughout on Sunbox, their fourth release and debut EP under the Ghostly International specter, is an ethereal presence of muted, slightly distorted synths that seem to be emanating from surrounding homing devices, tracking the progress of a sub-aqueous migration of the temporal lobe. Had Jacques Cousteau been laid up by a man-o-war incident and had time to dabble in IDM, chances are it wouldn't sound anything like this; but I have a strong suspicion that the watery, tropic-soaked circular organ and vibrant glitch beat percussive tinkery of "Royal Peppermint Forest" would resonate somewhere inside our much beloved Frenchman. The sprawling "Hong" is an eight-minute meandering odyssey of Air meets Mouse On Mars with the mellow interplay of a slow, pounding pulse and damp swathes of swirling melodica. Will I make the requisite Boards Of Canada comparison or won't I? I suppose after hearing the final track, "Season," that sort of thing might be in order, showcasing an expertly dense use of space and the controlled chaotics of dashing zippers and burbles hinting at a sinister tinge slightly beyond the dark beauty. Sunbox could easily be used as a single piece in five movements. The struggle between continuity and repetitiveness is not a problem as each track unfolds and enfolds to reveal manipulated, slightly askew aspects of each other that hint at a common wholeness among them yet keeps you on your toes throughout. KILN creates a diverse homogeny of a soundscape that, although deep it may stray to explore the ocean life, it is never out of range of the refracted afternoon sun shining majestically overhead.
A beautiful down-tempo long player from Michigan-based trio KILN, fizzling with warm electronic beauty, sparse sinuous beats and innovation. Repeated listening reveals more complexity and thoughtfulness on this nicely understated album released by Ghostly International, one of today's most interesting electronic labels. Open the ‘Sunbox’ and bathe in its glow.
Lush musical event constructions from former members of Fibreforms /Waterwheel; layers of spacious southwestern guitar melodies, over earthy, sometimes funky drumming, their previous EP got many rave reviews (among them from Alternative Press which said that they “sound so natural and unforced that they could have arisen spontaneously from private conversations among the instruments”), supple, ambient music that’s so good, and in this case, sounds so good, that it should be playing from many stereos across the land, making a spectacular and immediate broadcast connection for the pleasure of a massive all. -Avant Garde
Many people still believe that machine-made music equals cold/impersonal/soulless sounds, while music from guitar/bass/drums equals warm/passionate/soulful sounds. This dichotomy no longer holds much water; artists such as Kiln (formerly Fibreforms) further the cause for the defence. Listening to ‘Holo’ and KILN’s 1998 self-titled EP on Roomtone, one can imagine their effects boxes, samplers, and computers actually possessing nervous systems. So it’s not surprising that KILN’s music has a lush, organic quality that recalls Brian Eno and Jon Hassell’s ‘Fourth World’ ambient efforts. Like their elder’s work, Kiln’s music evokes nature in a microcosmic state. A trio who dwell on a peninsula somewhere in the Western Hemisphere, KILN actually seem to exist on a higher plane of existence, uncorrupted by the world’s shit (which isn’t to say their music isn’t earthy, it is, but it’s airy and watery too). Most who make music like KILN’s meander for 10-20 minutes a track. KILN’s pieces usually clock in at three to four minutes and are all the more effective for it. ‘Breezeplate’ attains the featherweight gravity of some Rapoon albums, it’s subliminally blessed-out ambience and muted percussion appear to be graced by angels and cheribum. ‘Billionwatt’ fades in with rapid hand percussion, and then guitars that sound like a roomful of halogen bulbs fritzing out usurp it, while an ectoplasmic choir resurrects the ethereally erotic atmosphere of MBV’s ‘Loveless’. Seemingly conceived in an REM dream state, the ten songs on ‘Holo’ fill you with a spiritual serenity that makes going to a house of worship unnecessary.
Caught somewhere between post-shoegaze dreaminess, goth ethereality, and just a dollop of industrial beats and new age spin, KILN, on ‘Holo’, create a striking, enjoyable series of instrumental compositions that easily live up to the attractive artwork and design of the album itself. At times ‘Holo’ suggests what Steve Roach or Vidna Obmana would do if they were a band rather than solo acts, with the same delicacy and careful, understated emphasis on performance. The use of keyboards helps determine this flow, acting as a combination of shading and lead melody, while the guitars and semi-tribal beats fill out the songs in even greater detail. Nearly every song takes some while to fade in -- the last, "Continentsunderclouds," takes nearly a full minute! -- adding to the air of careful deliberation. There's a playful but, in keeping with Holo's mood, very low-key tinge of breakbeat and dub rhythm exploration -- just enough to suggest itself, as on the ravishing "Kekker," but not to the point of taking over the songs. One of the best efforts is "Sunsculptureone," where it's not so much beats as static crackles, rising and falling in the mix in combination with droning synths and the occasional guitar chime. It's mesmerizing, a definite highlight for the group and the album, while a similar but less fuzzy approach is used on "Gauss," with a quietly queasy keyboard loop and lurking guitar feedback leading the way. The individual compositions are short, and arguably too short -- KILN do a wonderful job in setting moods that could easily last longer. The slow waft of "Sienna," acoustic guitar to the fore, and "Docedatheon" are two more strong points on this enjoyable, underrated release.
-All Music Guide
"Winningly gentle, adventurous experiments in scape and shift, apparently cobbled from previous releases and outtakes from the past decade of recording (and releases on Thalassa, Room Tone and most recently, Ghostly International). Kiln’s music, made by a trio of multi-instrumentalists working with digital and tangible tools, is new to me, but it doesn’t feel that way: it supercedes labels like “post-rock” or “Tortoise-esque” or “bespectacled” by virtue of how much ground these tracks cover, genre-wise and within the listener’s imagination. Elements of field recording, shoegaze, experimental composition and jazz ebb and flow throughout these eight clear instrumental selections. The best selections here spread out organically, with full, brushed drum washes and the vastness of the night sky collapsed into the space of one’s bedroom ceiling, much in the same way that Talk Talk accomplished the feat on Laughing Stock." -Dusted
Ampday is KILN 's pop experiment, which is hardly the oxymoron it seems -- pocket-size sound sculptures of panoramic depth and kaleidoscopic radiance, the album's 13 tracks channel the far-reaching sonic sprawl of previous outings into a concise yet vividly impressionistic approach somehow both accessible and abstract. It's not so much a pop record per se as it is a meditation on and reinterpretation of the concept; by adopting some basic elements of pop (melody, shape, and brevity among them), Ampday's songs possess an immediacy earlier KILN records lacked, but in rejecting other elements (most notably vocals and verse-chorus-verse structures), the album refutes pop's inherent reliance on articulating and interpreting feelings and thoughts solely through means of verbal expression, a straitjacket that limits the music's possibilities for both artists and audiences alike. Whereas lyrics force specific ideas and emotions, Ampday allows for much more meaningful interaction, evoking and suggesting instead of provoking and demanding; it's far too direct and present to pass as mere ambient music, yet their common spaciousness and atmospherics make the comparison an apt one, as the record's best moments boast an uncommon mastery of texture and mood. A Technicolor revelation, Ampday expands upon KILN 's beauty in new and unexpected ways --
amplification indeed. -All Music Guide
With "Ampday", the now canyon-sized fissures that were once tiny cracks in KILN 's parched-earth facade show more than mud and stone. Where in the past, KILN releases provided the smallest bit of info possible, with only artwork and titles to satisfy eager minds - now, no longer must we wonder about our once-faceless Gaian scientists, and what arcane incantations were used in the creation of such wonderful sounds. Messr's Marrison, Rehberg, and Hayes, still playfully obtuse (what sound did the "levitating catslide" make?), seamlessly blend their twisting, ethereal instrumental pop with soundscapes that imitate the sounds of spreading rust or moss. "Tinsunshine" is acoustic-driven and electrified at the same time, like a drum circle in a thunderstorm, with intermittent breaks of ear-tickling static and strummed guitar harmonics that mimic what must be the sound of angels crying; out of the itchy sound of pencil scratching paper on "Learning To Draw" grows an urgent ambulance siren/dopplered guitar, which gives way to calm meanderings of the trio, conjuring images of Ry Cooder's soundtrack to "Paris, Texas" redone by The Cocteau Twins. The attempts to integrate the group interactions with their penchant for earthy atmospheric wanderings are more apparent on "Ampday" than on previous releases, and it's done a deft touch. With each album, KILN consistently shatter the Platonic Ideal of beauty and grace in music, only to rebuild it to a height out of reach of anyone but themselves. -Brainwashed.com
No cold electronica here, KILN is human beings from Fibreforms and Waterwheel playing joyously human instrumental drone-pop, with plenty of acoustic guitars, fuzzy electric guitars, and limber rhythm beds… Grand seismically torn desertscapes, fragile pop melodies dripping with gloss and grit, an exceptional foray for the experimental set. -Parasol
The first track: geiger counters rusted out with malaria. It has come to an age when the pretense of such a fanciful description is all that will do, when outfits such as the wonderfully named KILN put it all to us, basking in anonymity somewhere in the Midwest. Kiln are out of a nowhere moving toward a more profound nowhere, taking or leaving us. The aforementioned “Kefgraft.2: Radius” and the ticked off “Neuron” bookend “Méné” which (in higher states) people will regard as the most beautiful night they’ve ever spent indoors. The post-bleep samba hasn’t captured the reluctant zeitgeist of the late 90’s until this (check Drum Island’s “Phizz” for a brighter close second or the upcoming Kiln release on Thalassa). “Afer,” “Sonor,” and “Cennan” offer more senseless (that’s good) outerspace approximations before a hidden track snails into view, never revealing it’s bubblegum center. Your machine will eventually reassure you with “Méné” again. KILN, like others of this vocal-less, ambient ilk, simply present for our perusal the sounds that get them off on landlocked nights. At their best KILN recall Main dolled up for an evening of mood swings under the buzz of dying neon. The sound vs. entertainment debate will not take up this space. -Alternative Press
Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis once claimed , “Space and silence are the most important tools that you can use in music.” The musicians of KILN have taken these words to heart, creating music that thankfully doesn’t exhibit the horror vacuums of so many of their experimental electronica peers. The KILN outfit’s debt (members of this Michigan collective previously put out two records under the name Fibreforms) is initially perplexing in it’s opacity: one can hardly discern what instruments are used, so heavily had the input been manipulated. Imagine Disco Inferno’s use of organic sampling pushed to extremes, the samples warped beyond recognition and the results somewhere between Panasonic’s jittery, static-laden hum and Dome’s clangorous intensity, and you might come close to the opener “Kefgraft.2: Radius”. Yet by the time “Méné” kicks in- sounding like Beaumont Hannant’s sublime “Heavenly” with it’s clockwork-regular rhythm track and layered, bell-like keyboard motifs that begin to sound like treated voices as the track goes on- you’ve begun to orient yourself: the landscape seems fluid and otherwordly, but not alien. Sometimes warm (“Hidden System”), and sometimes austere (“Neuron”), “KILN” is a record that becomes more seductive with each listen, precisely because of it’s elusiveness. It doesn’t give away all it’s secrets at once. -Puncture
A modern electronics record that draws from the claustrophobic isolationism of later Scorn, Stars of the Lid, Lull et al, KILN manages to infuse said formula with a warmth that, for all purposes, should undermine the very tenets of the isolationist creed. It’s as if one had discovered a jewel of unbound luminance struggling to shed its glow through several layers of obsidian-like calcification. That struggle is what makes this EP’s music so compelling. I could very well be wrong in assuming this music to be wholly electronic, for the possibility strongly exists that guitars and other live instruments outside of the synth and sampler realm have been used to flesh these six droning, clicking, sometimes thudding songs out. If so, their individual “personalities” have been muddied and blurred beyond recognition into synthetic washes, drones, pulses and otherwise unknown swells and slips. Typical lack of disclosure as far as instrumentation is an understandable, yet odd facet to this particular breed of ambient music. Still, the mystery seems to make listening to KILN all the more enjoyable, the band neither enlisting nor denying the listener’s efforts to solve that unknown, or the album’s other enigmas. -sonarc.net
(2014) Back in the mists of 1996—long before the kaleidoscopic rhythm and sound of last year’s Meadow:watt made it to igloo’s Tops, before the smudged texture maps of Dusker (2007), before even the loopstrata and slo-wave microsymphonies of Thermals (2001)—was Fibreforms time. But some times come when some are looking the other way. So it’s strangely timely that the artists currently known as Kiln should publish their back pages in Treedrums —though, note, the Stone EP would’ve been a capture too. Nearly two decades on, the recordings sound unbound time-wise, yet stand as a historical document, capturing the Michigan trio in transition between performance/band and studio/sound art paradigms. Treedrums draws on both, melding instrumental passages of kit drums and guitars with found and treated sounds, psycho-activating vibrant forms and spaces. Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison, and Clark Rehberg III commune in a set of sketches and more finished pieces that strike as if organically sprouted—from piezo-miked instruments, backyard rhythms, and diverse esoteric timbres from darker continents—apparently including the bounkam, an African instrument that brays like a mad bagpipe (hear here). There are moments, as some have noted, when their music recalls Talk Talk (perhaps as they were already turning Orang), but it’s not so much derivative as in line with better-known kindred spirits in departing from ‘rock band’ tropes towards more isolationist outer limits—a bit Bark Psychosis, a little Labradford, maybe a mite Main. They traffic in similar textured sound fields, draping the listening space with tones, sun-struck to crepuscular, and sometimes percussive sequences, yet approach composition and sound architecture with a certain reticent expressivity all of their own, and an ensemble ethos part aleatory, part telepathy. Some tracks are conventional in composition and premised on Rawk™’s holy trinity of guitar-bass-drums, but others go beyond, prefiguratively deploying electronic tweaks and treatments and the meticulous sound design evident in works forged by Kiln. Some, with their cymbal shower, snare paraddidle, and axe noodle, are in safer borders of post-rockery, yet others open to future sound gardens, foreshadowing the drift toward texture and abstraction. In sum, it’s ambient post-rock, Jim, but not as we know it—and probably, at the time, without their knowing it. Worth knowing that Treedrums is here re-presented by Infraction in a restored archival edition—‘re/lux work on digital transfers of the original ADAT source tracks’ (liner notes)–resulting in a re-modeled richness of sound (also including a bonus of two previously unreleased tracks!). Nicely packaged too, as is Infraction’s wont, with a little booklet, crammed with stone and wood imagery. -Igloo Magazine
(2014) One of the more fascinating pleasures offered by Treedrums concerns the opportunity to hear KILN before it evolved into the outfit that produced Dusker and Thermals: Treedrums, you see, was largely recorded in 1995 (and released in 1996 on Earthtone) when Clark Rehberg III, Kevin Hayes, and Kirk Marrison operated under the name fibreforms. And so what we're presented with is the group at a nascent stage in its development when its sound more legitimately warranted a label such as post-rock. To put it even more precisely, the album provides a document of KILN prior to its metamorphosis (astutely coined by Infraction) from “live performance trio to sound-art synergists.” Whereas the group's recent music treats texture as equal in importance to melody (some might argue more important), the fibreforms material emphasizes melody and live feel over texture to a greater degree. Compared to the work KILN would later release, the eleven tracks on Treedrums (the previously unreleased “Kineis” and “Corianna” were recorded months after the original album release date and thus appear on Treedrums for the first time) are more conventional in presenting formally structured compositions in arrangements designed around a guitar (electric and acoustic)-bass-drums setup. The music foreshadows the group's later sound, however, in its incorporation of electronic treatments and textures (though, for the record, it should be noted that the original material was re-amped and rebuilt by TJ Martin for the new release), and these early pieces already exemplify the fastidiousness and surgical attention to detail that would become trademarks of the KILN sound. The lilting “Blood,” for example, receives a boost not only from its acoustic guitar strums and ethereal electric guitar treatments but also the presence of Brady Millard-Kish's double bass playing. Prodded by acoustic guitar arpeggios, the later “Corianna” lilts even more pronouncedly, with this time bassoon croak by Mark Williams worked into the mix. Whereas some tracks, with their rainshowers of cymbals, drums, and guitars, situate themselves within post-rock territory, others see the group anticipating its eventual move away from the style and towards something more abstract. The group threads in moments of ambient-like serenity (“Aubade”) amidst rhythmically charged pieces such as “Kineis” (perhaps the one track that, in its heavy focus on texture and atmosphere, most strongly anticipates KILN's later sound) and the hard-hitting “Soaring... ” Certain tracks stand out as especially lovely, foremost among them “Untitled Bright Format,” with its warm, crystalline flow of electric guitar shimmer and drums, and the also dreamlike “Ore Corymb,” which merges energized drumming with guitar textures by Charlie Nash. Don't let the fact that the original material was recorded in 1996 mislead you into thinking that Treedrums (issued in a numbered edition of 300 copies) is not an essential part of the KILN story. What's perhaps most remarkable of all is how fresh and contemporary the fifty-three-minute collection sounds; even though there is a greater emphasis on melody and a more conventional band presentation, the music has KILN written all over it and therefore offers a great deal of listening pleasure to the long-time fan. -Textura
(1996) Musicians from Varese through Slint have appreciated the power inherent in silence. Sometimes it’s not what you say but the restraint with which you say it. Michigan’s Fibreforms explore these riches of quiet with rare eloquence. Giving more weight to the spaces between notes than to the ringing tones of and around them, “Soaring…” hangs with the studied balance of a mobile. Few have done this correctly since Dif Juz’s “Extractions”, and even that seems primitive compared to the perfection attained here. Instruments and musicians don’t whine for individual recognition, and the ensemble mentality of the Fibreforms players enters new levels of symbiotic interaction. The sounds of “Treedrums” are so natural and unforced that they could have arisen spontaneously from private conversations from private conversations among the instruments, musical dialogues occurring behind the players’ backs. How else can one explain “Ore Corymb,” “Untitled Bright Format” or “Amorosa” and the unanimity of expression shared by their instrumental voices? “Cincture” couldn’t be more ingenerate if the musicians were umbilically linked, transmitting sonic impulses through amniotic fluid. “Thermals” and “Aubade” are ambience stripped of it’s impotence, the heat of plasma flowing through neonatal tissue. “Treedrums” is the triumphant dissolution and rebirth of music as the fifth vital humor.