by Eric Gagne
They’re really zeroing in on it now. I loved them at first listen, but we’re critical beings, and it’s not crazy to imagine what these EPs are leading up to. An EP is a great unit of measurement when making music that is challenging to any degree. In this case, Kindling is driving around an amplifier museum, and what’s firing out of those speakers seems drastically more important than the vocals, which are definitely in the back seat. This is not a bad thing; I’ve always loved the vocals mixed back, ever since I got into Converge. Treat them like another instrument, and force people not to squint necessarily, but to step inside. Groups that utilize this method understand that they are challenging potential listeners, but they are really building a vessel, constructing the boundaries of their universe. These definitions are integral to bringing the process of the song communication to complete fruition. The hope within these parameters is that the ideas put forth in the vocals are attainable through induction; you won’t need a bouncing ball or a lyric sheet to fully grasp the vibe Kindling has set adrift into space.
The full brutality of their sound is best experienced live, however, where they effortlessly direct vacuum tubes, electricity, and a pounding sensibility, into a fine warm nest, the vocals cradled within it, casual, calm, and without strain. This is a marked change from how I’m used to seeing Stephen Pierce deliver vocals. In Ampere, western Mass stalwarts of a devastating punk rock, Pierce fronts the band with a wild, pointed, and ragged style. His performance in Kindling is all nuance.
So what is it building to? I, and many others I’m certain, are hoping for a sprawling blasting masterpiece. A soft and gentle treatise on our material world, sung directly into the ennui of our overgrown technosphere, all wrapped inside a deft study of tone and the breakup of tone; a gainy growling fucking juggernaut of a full length. Galaxies is a top-notch record, but also it seems like it’s only the briefest glimpse of a terrifying beautiful sun, hanging like a sack of blood and fire just above the horizon.