Review: KiNK - Under Destruction


A funny thing happened one funny, sunny, Sunday afternoon in November last year. It was around lunchtime that day and I'd just trotted downstairs to the coffee shop below my flat to get some eats and treats. The night before, at kyo, Strahil Velchev, better known to the world as KiNK, had just played a blinder, and to top it off, with a great impromptu jam session with our rising local musical star, and Lego-mad-semi-sax-god, Kevin Guoh, who we all know better as Kaye. 

Mad nights like that leave one absolutely famished the day after. Anyway, imagine my surprise to see KiNK, sitting in that same coffee shop alongside Kavan, kyo's marketing and booking chief and Midnight Shift head-honcho (also my former Noisy neighbour). Of course, we got our respective meals sorted and proceed to chat about his stay and the night before and his plans for the year to come. Before we knew it, time had passed and he had to get back to sort out his packing before his flight home that night. The only problem that presented itself then was, the sky had turned ashen, and before you could say KiNK, the rain had come crashing down. So, living within the building, I asked Strahil and Kavan to wait for me at the table while I went up to get two umbrellas for them.  But KiNK was having none of it, he insisted to come up and look around my bedroom studio, so, to cut a long story short, I'll always remember that fateful day, Sunday the third of November 2013 as the day I "had" KiNK in my flat. Needless to say, I refused to wash my floors for a week.

Anyway, having put that fateful day in that special little treasure chest now, onward to the 'business' at hand. When we talked about Strahil putting an album together, eventually, I suppose he didn't want to jump the gun in many ways but the one thing we were both certain about, was that it was in the works and that it would be finished after the touring had stopped. We all know his DJ and live sets can be totally diverse and if his work with the recent Rachel Row album is any suggestion to go by in every sense, there's a jazzual and soulful side to this Bulgarian that most purists don't tend to see, or don't want to. Whichever that case in point may be, we've both always felt that purists don't have much fun anyway and that the joy of producing an album is that its overall and final output is one that has to reflect the personality, influences and ability of the person behind the mixing desk. 

After a string of top-notch releases via Dirtybird, Ovum, Rush Hour and Systematic, the hype was steadily building around the LP after he announced a May 5 release this year. Under Destruction, will land on Stefan Goldmann and Finn Johannsen's Macro, a fitting debut for both Strahil and the label alike.

A result of an amalgamation of jam sessions in his home town of Sofia, the album kicks off with that quirky KiNK personality that pours itself like a matrix of liquid colour all over its opening track aptly titled 'Drama’. It's a hypnotically bell-driven excursion down the rabbit hole into La La Land, literally, as those child-like vocals suggest that KiNK is the Pied Piper and you, the listener, his willing followers that he picks up along the way with his quirky, haunting melodies. You may even find yourself singing, or trying to sing along to this unconsciously at some point.

‘Kakavida’ which follows, the word itself being Bulgarian for ‘cocoon’ (not the club) or ‘chrysalis’, suggests metamorphosis and the conversion from pupa to butterfly, or moth. Again, like its predecessor, it starts and remains beat-less for most of its duration, choosing to unleash its rhythmic arsenal of beats and synths when one least expects it but, as this one does, it highlights more of KiNK's demented musical genius coupled with his tendency to unleash the unexpected at the most benign moments.


The short interlude, ‘Kokiche’, as the title suggests, could be a tribute of sorts to the Kokiche Col, the ice-covered col of elevation over 800 meters extending 650 meters on the Trinity Peninsula in Graham Land, Antarctica, which links the Aureole Hills to the northwest to the Detroit Plateau to the southeast, named after the settlement of Kokiche in Southern Bulgaria. It's becoming quite clear as the album progresses through this 'Pied-Piper's' journey,  that the fat of the land we find ourselves navigating with him, is his own neighbuorhood and that somehow, he has no intention of keeping it totally pedestrian or touristy either.

‘Melodia’ takes the album up a notch and slaps straight in with its Detroit-esque leanings, bringing together the beats, hats and bass-lines evolving melodically around a steady groove, punctuated by a majestic string laden break-down, almost as if KiNK is suggesting we break for a little Rakia before the journey continues. And it does, as he wants it to.

‘Povreda’ and ‘Sintezator’ that follow, the latter being in reference to the KORG Sintezator synthesizer, threatens to cause serious body-jolting injury to those who tread without caution through their beat-laden and bass heavy meanderings. Source of uncertainty is KINK pouring out his life on canvas once again; driving, menacing and super-wavy...Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of KiNK, and the album's almost in full swing now…

‘Tel’ takes the album in to a tad slower territory showcasing more of Strahil's versatility and more of his attention to detail and love for influences of the motor city. This one, by far, being one of my favourites on the LP. ‘Teleport’ and ‘Tok’ highlights his penchant for the dark and strange and more sinister sides of spacey, weird electronica. in KiNK-speak: "the fact that there was no local electronic sound when I grew up, and the electronic music that would eventually become popular here, like Trance and Progressive House, made me curious about the different scenes around the world, like in Chicago, Detroit, New York, London, Berlin and Amsterdam. Missing specific influences at home made me a more diverse artist. I also have to mention a few names, like this little record store, “Diukian Meloman”. I found it in 1995, at that time they had a deal with labels like Warp and Ninja Tune, and it opened my eyes."

It's clear that many of those early influences are represented, in pure post-modern love here. Pure analogue bliss, and strangeness all-in-one.

Another one of my favourites from all these 'Destructions' and one that I ironically can't quite wrap my head around totally, is "Summa Technologies", but I suppose that will be one conversation that I will leave for the next time we unexpectedly meet in some random spot around the world. I intend to ask him about that one as I will on the inspiration behind the album's closer "Vodolaz", its meaning I have no knowledge of, (breed of Russian dog or watch come to mind) but the track itself, sums up a breathtaking trek thru KiNK's day-to-day neighbourhood treks, a tour of his backyard, and in a strange way, with a certain uncertainty of where this journey will end.

In some way, he could be taking you back to his pad in Sofia, where the afterparty and jam session that follows may be a sight to behold, as is this breathtaking debut by one of my favourite electronic producers of the modern world. And I hear that there's another Rachel Row album in the works too...mmmmm....KINKY.

01. Dama
02. Summa Technologiae
03. Vodolaz
04. Sintezator
05. Source Of Uncertainty
06. Povreda
07. Kakavida
08. Tok
09. Teleport
10. Melodia
11. Tel
12. Kokiche