The guys from Kiev just wanted to drink and DJ and take a moment to revel in the release of their long-awaited album, but since they were getting us all out to their release party on a Tuesday night, they figured they would try to jam.
After nearly two years of anticipation, Kiev’s first full-length album, Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth is out, an all-around glorious occasion. Its party is a simple and unpretentiously inclusive affair at The Record Parlour in Hollywood, with no admission fee and invites courtesy of a public Facebook event whose purpose is simply that “Our album has been a long time coming and it deserves a proper send off into the universe.” The guy at the door checks IDs and reminds us just to remember to tip the bartenders. The well-stocked open bar is serving up Two Buck Chuck and PBR. There is an atmosphere of laid-back familiarity as the band mingles with a crowd full of friends, acquaintances and fans. It almost feels like it’s taking place in someone’s living room, through The Record Parlour’s jukeboxes, 15,000 records in bourbon crates and vintage concert posters that read “Vice Sound,” “Iron Butterfly” and “The Young Nurses (They grow up so fast!)” add tremendously to the ambiance.
Kiev takes the stage when the time comes, opening with the drums of “Ariah Being,” with its strong rhythm and beautiful saxophone solo, followed by the familiar and entrancing “Be Gone Dull Cage.” It’s hard to tell whether the set takes on a triumphant and celebratory quality solely because of its context, or because it’s written on the faces of each of the band members, or because of the crowd’s excitable, bopping vibe that carries through the end of the evening.
It’s late by the time I get into my car and look closely at the cover of Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth. It’s simply Walton Ford’s “Falling Bough,” the gorgeous and unsettling painting that served as inspiration for the record, wrapped around the front and back of the case. Elegant. I remember the guy at the merch table saying that the band had gone to meet Ford in New York.
Feeding the CD into the player, I’m met with the soft heartbeat-like rhythm of “Pulsing: Cough Focus,” whose gentle acoustics create a rawness, a vulnerability that feels instantly intimate. I would soon find that this was a quality held in common with all four of the album’s “Pulsing” series (“Pulsing: Cough Focus”, “Pulsing: Tired Lungs”, “Pulsing: Wisdom Teeth”, and “Pulsing: Home Now,” which I couldn’t help but think would have taken on an eerily psychic quality had it come on twenty minutes later, as I was actually arriving at home. So close.).
The album unfolds beautifully. “Ariah Being” and “Falling Bough” are early standouts for sure, but listening in this case is an endeavor best undertaken holistically; the album as a whole resonates on its own emotional frequency, and its meticulous layering of elements is impressive. Flying down the deserted nighttime freeway enveloped in Kiev’s immersive sound, the expansive emptiness around me had finally achieved an appropriate soundtrack, one that made the road ahead feel both complicated and meaningful.