Review: KK Null – Oxygen Flash

KK Null - Oxygen Flash It’s the first listen of Oxygen Flash that stays with you. That first sense of dizziness and disorientation as whirrs and pulses ping back and forth and back again, the genuine unease over what sonic environment you’ll be plunged into next, and the overwhelming awe over how the whole thing sounds so perfectly coherent and together. At no point does it feel like a collection of individual sounds – each audio atmosphere on Oxygen Flash morphs and moves with the harmony and co-ordination of a single entity.

The diversity within the record stands as its strongpoint. “One” buzzes with electric generators in dripping underground caves. “Four” is packed with the hydraulic hiss and hum of gigantic factory machinery. “Six” throbs delicately with hints of rhythm whilst alien noises claw at your ears from beneath. Each of these is drenched in vivid detail, packed full of texture without ever feeling overloaded or congested.

In the case of the first three movements, each track slips beautifully into the next, regardless of any stark atmospheric contrast. It’s a stunning effect. Track transitions occur with such graceful fluidity that the abrupt switch in the sonic environment goes completely unnoticed. So it’s a shame when the third track cuts into silence, heaving you out of hypnosis and allowing you to re-register reality, even if it’s just for the split second before the fourth commences. Personally, I would have preferred the noise to be ceaseless, to lure you in and hold you under until the album itself reaches the end.

It’s a small snag on what is, on the whole, a beautifully crafted record. Despite KK Null boasting a discography of around one hundred releases, Oxygen Flash is clearly not a quick-release piece of impulsive catharsis, recorded in an hour of frenzied improvisation and forgotten in a minute. It flows with the precision and assertive direction of something that has been carefully constructed, and although it’s that initial listen that hits the hardest, it bursts with depth and the promise of listener reward on future spins. Rarely does a record manage to astound with its intricacies and evident workmanship and not drop an ounce of instinctive artistic purity along the way.