Karl J. Paloucek is best known for his work with bombastic groups such as Boy Dirt Car and Fuckface, where he would forcefully pounded out industrial rhythms on all sorts of junkyard oddities. But Paloucek takes to the quieter side of the industrial landscape on his recent solo disc, K. Gone are the oil drums and the power drills, but an even more intriguing landscape remains.
Pristinely recorded conduit chimes, sewing machines, crystal ware, and thin aluminum sheets provide the foundation for each of K.’s four pieces, creating a chilling atmosphere filled with an endless amount of detail. But what ties the whole album together is the use of simple, straight-ahead, and surprisingly aggressive piano melodies. While a number of artists have tried to balance traditional melodies with industrial elements before and failed, Paloucek’s dynamic role reversal and ability to squeeze every drop of potential from both worlds pushes these works far past the point of novelty. Thunderous sheet-metal booms and field recordings of Union Station lurk in the background while morose piano chords and the hushed clicks of sewing machines and metronomes crash to the forefront of every track. Yet the tone greatly varies throughout, ranging from the menacing snarl of “Undulation 3” and the frantic clip of “Oscillation 3,” to the melancholic turn of “Resonance” and the schizophrenic collage on “Theme For An Obsessive.”
On the surface, Paloucek’s focus seems to be doing simple things well, but this notion falls apart upon closer inspection. Each time through, a new layer of detail can reveal itself as new sounds are discovered and dissected. It boils down to a slight of hand, making the complex seem simple, but K. is a trick worth falling for.