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The best kept secret in music


"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.

- Delusions of Adequacy

"Kieskagato- EP"

Funny how the world goes round. It wasn't too long ago I was giving praise to a virtually unknown talent named Disturbed for their "Sicness E.P.". As I stated in my review, the only bones I had to pick with their release was the length... or there lack of... Certainly off genre and hoping for a more artistic longevity, here I sit once again, five years later with the same hopes for Portland, Oregon's Kieskagato.
While I could spend heaps of time listing off examples of such irony, I'll cease, and spend heaps of time talking about Kieskagato's unprecedented hybrid of hollowed genre.
With their critically acclaimed 2004 release, "You, Are The One, Who Can" already glowing brightly on their artist resume, 2005's E.P. release brings another source of illumination. Like a blending of mixed fruit juices, all five tracks are smooth tasting with no preservatives.
Though fans of Mogwai, Air, Coldplay and many others will gravitate to this CD, their sound can not be easily compared to any one artist due to the nacheral flavoring and almost second nature effort. Every guitar stroke, horn blown, symbol splash, organ keyed, and vocal intrusion knives through the polluted cloudage that is currently a very dismal and dark music industry. Rather than adding to the pollution, it's tracks like "Thursday", and "Well, Then Alright" that could possibly cause a redefining of genre specifications all over the world.
Track two "Dirty House" begins with a keyboard intro that kicks me back twenty years to my Sesame Street viewing days. Only his time I'm visualizing Thom Yorke (Radiohead) jamming playfully with Big Bird (on the horns of course), Cookie Monster (what else but the drums), and Elmo who takes the bass. So energetically entertaining, this track is epitome of organized freedom sessions.
To get an idea of the artistry, go straight to the previously mentioned, track four, "Well, Then Alright". This is truly a song for the ages. Long-winded vocals strides are only an accompanying element in this world of trumpets, scaling keyboards, and gritty guitars. Tempo changes are scattered amongst all nine minutes of this song.
So enthralled by the power and positive progression, I am simply waiting on pins and needles for track five "Straight Line". Brought in with a sweet little xylophone lead, continuing on, this bed time story is like a rambling reviewer, never knowing when to quit. To say things get odd from here is an understatement. Odd in a good way however, as production from the sound board brings in another façade of elements. Wicked little noises and sounds that bring everything to a head.
More about recording the most intertwining of musical genre, Kieskagato certainly sounds nothing like Disturbed. However, unlike Disturbed, Kieskagato does not come in riding the coat tails of a genre wave. They're beautifully unknown breed of Jazzy Electro Rip Rock could easily demand the attention of anyone from 17-70.

"Kieskagato- EP"

First and foremost, it should be said that I owe Kieskagato a rather hefty personal favor. The band's last album, You, Are The One, Who Can, reignited my interest in local music altogether with its hybrid potion of rock, jazz, indie and, most importantly, that unmistakable laid back Portland ambiance. Moreover, it helped conquer my fear of trumpets. I might still duck and cover beneath a dark hooded sweatshirt every time I'd see one if it hadn't been for these guys.

The group has returned with a second dosage of musical medicine to cure your urban maladies. This time around, an independent release, unceremoniously titled EP, provides more of the band's memorable style of laid back rock and roll. Singer/guitarist/bassist/trumpeter Josh Vasby's relaxing vocals lead the band with an unshaken tone which is simultaneously playful, lulling and confident. The words he sings are blanketed by an orchestral blanket of dreamy guitar work, jazzy basslines, upbeat keys and, of course, the friendliest trumpet work you've ever heard. Fellow bandmates Adam Scultz (bass, trumpet, percussion), Bryan Fairfield (backing vocals, drums, percussion), and David Jorgensen (Rhodes, organ, trumpet) are so in tune with each other that they almost sound like one enormous force that would require surgery to break apart into separate entities.

Two of the record's five songs ("Thursday" and "See You At The Meeting") should feel familiar, making return appearances from You, Are The One. The slight differences in sound from the earlier session might not be enough to demand a favorite between recordings but, alongside the new material, they might stand to show some growth in the band. Hearing these recordings, you can almost hear a familiarity to the workings of the song that comes from having experienced play. Like wine, the music seems to come out a bit smoother with just the passing of a year.

Three brand new tracks feel like they could have easily fit in on last year's release. The bouncy rock feel of "Dirty House" is immediately catchy enough to make hands start clapping rhythmically in any bar or venue. "Well Then, Alright" stands out as the longest track at just a sneeze past nine minutes, giving it more time than the rest to dabble in progressive experiments. Similarly, "Straight Line" plays with some ambient, nearly post rock qualities which make it more of an interactive, jamming feel.

As an independent release, the band will have its work cut out for it, getting these songs to the masses. But anyone who is familiar with the old record or even happens to stumble upon this one will be forced to agree upon its quality. Many bands lose their touch from one release to another, especially when they continue to write songs in the vein of their previous work. Kieskagato, however, seems to have quite a few more tricks up its sleeve and succeed again here. Especially considering the support the band is slowly gaining on a national level, Kieskagato has absolute potential to be in the indie spotlight as one of the scene's crowning jewels within a very short period of time.

If my vote counts for anything, the band deserves it.

- Oregon Music Guide


As Kieskagato:

EP 2005 Self Release
You, Are The One, Who Can 2004 Iconic Rocket Records

As Rm. 101:
Rm. 101: Live at the Zebra Lounge 2003 Self Release
Rm. 101: Half of What You Wanted 2002 Self Release
Indecisive Records Compilation vol 2 2003
Baby Bok Choy Record Club Compilation #13 2003 EchoSiberia Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kieskagato [Kee ska got oh] formed in the mid 1990’s in Madison, Wisconsin and moved to Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2000. Changing dramatically over the years in both name (originally called Rm. 101) and musical style, Kieskagato has morphed from a Radiohead and Built to Spill influenced indie-rock band into an ambiguous musical anomaly that combines everything from free jazz to hardcore rock, drawing equally from Charles Mingus, Mike Patton, Kurt Cobain, and Tortoise. Over the course of touring, recording, and composing, highlights have included opening for notable acts Crooked Fingers, Rogue Wave, Archer Prewitt, and Pete Yorn, as well as making two records with recording industry legend Larry Crane. During 2005, current Kieskagato members Josh Vasby (lead vocals, guitar, trumpet), Adam Schultz (bass, trumpet, percussion), Bryan Fairfield (drums, backup vocals, percussion), and David Jorgensen (Rhodes piano, organ, trumpet) completed 2 successful national tours, released a unique EP featuring remixes and rearrangements of classic Kieskagato material, and enjoyed a 3 month weekly residency at a favorite Portland club. The band is currently sequestered in its garage/studio preparing to record its next release in late summer.