KK.Null and z'ev, "Artificial Life"
KK.Null and z'ev is a nice pairing on paper, both of them have been around a long time and have produced a high quality body of work that encompasses multiple genres, styles, and perspectives. Listening to the record they made together does not convey such a history. While aesthetically the rather quiet and more subtle moments, like on "Untitled 2," are pleasing and perhaps even hypnotic, Artifical Life on the whole sounds like the product of two very different minds working in two very different ways. Had those two approaches synthesized well this would have turned out to be a better record, but there's a severe lack of conceptual intent keeping all the pieces of the puzzle from melding into a satisfactory whole.
There are all manner of bells, metallic plates, synthetic chirping, and noise to be found throughout this album's five songs, some of them genuinely exciting because of the tension they create, but the lack of consistency between songs is frustrating. The aforementioned "Untitled 2" is atmospheric, darkly lit and crawling with all sorts of unseen monstrosities and nervous twitching, but the 19 minutes of music on either side of it don't even come close to approximating the effect it has on me. Much of this has to do with the simplicity this song exhibits. It isn't entirely acoustic on z'ev's end (some of the drums were manipulated in the arrangement, I assume), but it is as close as the album gets to pure percussion and thus as close as the album gets to direct power and elegance. "Untitled 3" sounds like it could be techno if the right producer had gotten ahold of it and "Untitled 4" is just too dull to sit through despite its comparatively short running time.
"Untitled 5" does everything "Untitled 2" did right and features more of z'ev's metallic percussion. Portions of this fifth and final piece are almost melodic and, when played next to "Untitled 2," sound progressive: it takes up an almost narrative quality. Get rid of the other three pieces on Artificial Life and it would've made a fine short-player. As it stands there's too much garbage cluttering this release up.