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Red Kite: Red Kite (RareNoise)

A review of the debut album from the Norwegian quartet

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Red Kite
The cover of Red Kite by Red Kite

Norway’s outside-the-box music scene remains a breeding ground for eclectic sounds that don’t fit into any particular niche. Latest example: the self-titled debut by Red Kite, which takes shredding to the next level. A Norwegian supergroup of sorts, with members culled from progressive rock-leaning outliers Elephant9, Shining, Bushman’s Revenge, and Grand General, this quartet wears its influences on its sleeve, combining Coltrane-esque spiritual jazz, Ornette-ian harmolodics, and the punk-jazz squawking of the Stooges circa Fun House.

On the program’s five cacophonous and entrancing tracks, guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, bassist Trond Frønes, keyboardist Bernt André Moen, and drummer Torstein Lofthus craft an otherworld of heavy riffs and free-improv jams awash in gnarly noise—and certain to satiate the appetites of not just out-jazz heads but also psych-rock and stoner-metal buffs.

It’s an ecstatic free-for-all from the outset as Alice Coltrane receives tribute on the album’s opener, a spaced-out and bracing take on the title track of her 1970 solo record Ptah, the El Daoud. Red Kite’s version trades in the meditative tenor saxophone blasts of Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson for frenzied guitar salvos and mind-frying keyboards atop a raunchy blues-derived groove. The scuzzy blues vibe continues on the unfortunately titled but rewarding “13 Enemas for Good Luck” and “Flew a Little Bullfinch Through the Window,” slabs of warped jazz/metal that suggest Sonny Sharrock with the Melvins as his backing band. “Focus on Insanity” (the title a playful nod to Ornette Coleman) is Red Kite’s de facto anthem: 10 minutes of guitar wailing and pedal-stomping fury. You half-expect the band members to smash all their gear to pieces when the tune wraps up. Instead, they end on a groovy note with the positively hypnotic jam “You Don’t Know, You Don’t Know.”

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