Kieskagato – EP

Kieskagato’s name (a combination of the Russian and Spanish words for “cat”) seems to fit the Oregonian quartet’s sound. Cats have nine lives, and Kieskagato presents five of its incarnations through multiple styles and instrumental prowess on its latest recording, simply titled EP. The opening track, “Thursday,” shifts from dreamy, laid-back wanderings by lead singer Josh Vasby to cool jazz. The band’s triple trumpet threat, an indie-music rarity, is fully delivered on “Thursday.” Add organ and guitars that evoke the ocean, and you’re set for summer.

“Dirty House” finds the band in a 60s sphere, with buoyant keyboards and more prominent percussion. Between briefly aggressive guitar riffs, Vasby’s singing recalls a daring Van Morrison. “Dirty House” speeds along with magnetic vigor, as if Herb Alpert, Miles Davis, and King Crimson got together for a jam session. On “See You at the Meeting,” Kieskagato tones down its horns and offers classic 70s AM pop. The second half of the song surprises with guitar effects and chords all over the place.

“Well Then, Alright” floats on with the ambience of flying above NYC at sunset and looking down on all the people who seem so rushed while you’re so comfortable. There is a soothing, almost indescribable pleasure inspired by listening to “Well Then, Alright.” The break of the song into three sections immediately brings to mind Saint Etienne’s “How We Used to Live,” which also offers a trio of settings and tempos over nine minutes. “Well Then, Alright” is ideal for film soundtracks that involve urban living. What’s tremendous about this composition is that it complements so many different moods and times in a person’s life.

Rocking guitars and pounding drums halfway through “Well Then, Alright” signify some chaos, the uncertainty of the day. And then we come to the introspective, looping echoes that compel us to consider everything in the proper perspective. Perhaps because they are driven by human breath, the short bursts of trumpet add real soul to the listening experience. “Well Then, Alright” showcases Kieskagato at its peak, but the band consistently impresses with a fresh approach to each composition. The final track on EP, “Straight Line,” grows increasingly freer and louder as it nears its and the record’s end.

Kieskagato deserves praise for taking chances and keeping every track as enjoyable as it is experimental. EP has a little of everything for a variety of fans, but there is never a sense of deliberate dilution or artificiality in order to expand the audience. Improvisational and ingenious, Kieskagato exceeds expectations based on word association and thrills with terrific music.