Knodel – Split EP

Split EP

Box Factory Records continues their split CD EP series with probably one of the most interesting splits to come along my desk. Emperor Penguin, one of the most prolific experimenters in electronic-fused rock-related music, and Knodel, a band I haven’t heard before this release, go together perfectly and compliment each other on this release.
If you don’t know Emperor Penguin, an explanation of their music likely wouldn’t help. This band combines beats, synths, guitars, and rampant experimentation to create music that is always unique and always a little odd. That definitely continues on their three tracks here. Knodel, a band that is apparently from Portland, Oregon by way of France, takes a lighter, slightly more atmospheric approach to their unique blend of electronic music. And while Emperor Penguin takes a more experimental, unusual approach, Knodel have a very tight and mood-influencing feel to their music.
“The Beatbox Wore Tennis Shoes” starts off Emperor Penguin’s contributions, and this song blows me away. Like the title says, the band does human beatboxing (oh, for the 80’s), and mixing it with synths and some electronic rhythms, this is downright awe-inspiring. “Fatal Exception Error” is one of the most normal Emperor Penguin songs I’ve heard. With a funky bass-driven rhythm overlaid with electronic beats and spacey synths, this track is very cool. Ah, but “Ode to Secret Shopper” is vintage Emperor Penguin, with a loopy, spacey pop feel driven by a light rhythm, wailing guitar moments, and spaced-out synths. Lovely and playful at once.
Knodel start off with “A Party for You and Me,” a nice mix of synths and electronic beats, creating something of a 80’s style groove all of their own, even with hints of a hip-hop meets disco meets techno feel. The band uses vocals, hushed and slightly distorted, on the quieter and moody “Five Miles,” and “The Ballad of Knodel” uses a vocodor and acoustic guitar to craft an oddly appealing track that will make you pay attention and listen close. And their last track, “Re-Entry,” is totally different. It apparently uses a Speak-N-Spell to repeat “K-N-O-D-E-L” over and over in the background, while on top is a quiet, contemplative synth-driven soundscape. Quite lovely and engaging, really.
Pretty much anything from Emperor Penguin is worth listening to, whether for their subtle grooves and electronic innovation or simply for their unusual experimentalism. Knodel has shown me that they, too, can impose grooves and electronic rhythm to make some exciting and enjoyable experimental music. These two bands fit together perfectly, making this a must-have for anyone who likes the more experimental side of indie music.