Kármán Voh is Pasha Koskins’ Boston-based musical project. The band states that their sound includes elements of “noise rock, pop, experimental rock, post punk, ambient, shoegaze, techno, and electronica.” While it’s easy to hear some of the touchstones of these genres in Kármán Voh’s music, they are frequently placed alongside unfamiliar backdrops or re-ordered in novel ways. If Only Apart is the band’s EP length follow-up to last year’s full length, Ill Loam. As with Ill Loam, there is a delicate ambience throughout If Only Apart. Sounds ebb and flow in a way that creates a range of moving textures, these motions often vary significantly within individual songs. As a whole, If Only Apart utilizes guitar sounds as a more prominent element of this layering than Ill Loam. Affected guitars give the arrangements some pleasant harder edges, but still allow the band to make effective use of space. In terms of space, If Only Apart sounds huge, but even with its shimmering walls of reverb and undulating drones, there is still an impressive degree of restraint, control, and balance in the album’s arrangements.
The title track opens the EP with ringing guitars and a metallic wash that drifts over huge bass and snare sounds. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but it works well as Koskins’ vocal melodies move alongside the percussion to guide the song forward. “Hello Sparkfeeder (New Sun Version)’ places driving rhythms alongside droning string collages and ethereal vocals as a wall of noise fades in and out like a neighboring radio station competing for bandwidth on the same signal. ‘Feelin’ Better (New Sun Version)’ evokes classic shoegaze sounds, but retains the band’s unique fingerprint in arrangement and production. ‘Tetra (New Sun Version)’ opens modestly with an acoustic guitar, but slowly expands into a cavernous arrangement. The sung lines are an anchor against cascading drones – the choral quality of the vocals is particularly stunning here. Layered sounds drone and mix togethering on the glassy intro of ‘Junk in a Bottle (New Sun Version)’ before giving way to a hypnotic sequence of meshed guitars and percussion.
If Only Apart comes only four months after the release of a full-length album, but there’s an incredible amount of detail within the EP’s five tracks. This EP shows shows there’s good reason to pay attention to Kármán Voh as the project’s evolution is unlikely to follow any familiar path.
Kármán Voh will be playing with Deep Hole, Buck Gooter, and Reaches on Sunday, July 8th at Dorchester Art Project.