Review: Köhnen Pandi Duo – Darkness Comes In Two's

coverKöhnen (electronics) is the canyon. Pandi (drums) is the survivor stranded within. Köhnen is the environment: the winds that rattle across empty space, the rocks that tumble down on either side, the sheer vertical surfaces that eclipse the sky and thwart even the thought of escape. Pandi is the flail of irrational instinct, running at the walls and sliding helplessly back down again, wracked with the panic of being trapped without access to food or shelter.

Köhnen’s orchestrations dissolve and reform: from the upward smear of processed guitar, to the shadowy spectre of a classical film orchestra, to the nocturnal chirp of insectoid electronics. Even in absence his contributions feel huge. He maintains panoramic breadth through trace echoes that sweep across illusionary acres, doing just enough to preserve ominous authority over the territory without having to actually do anything within it. So much of Darkness Comes In Two’s is about earmarking the site for imminent catastrophe, using violins and vocal traces to breath prophecy into the black. Only occasionally does the music fulfil its perpetual threat, at which point orchestras and electronics congeal into a flood that gushes from the outside in, leaving Pandi to thrash for his life amidst waves that rise far above his head.

Pandi’s drumming is understandably anxious. He jolts suddenly in reaction to hallucinated dangers, while snare rolls hyperventilate into disconcerting stretches of quiet. As an actor within Köhnen’s canyon of death, he’s perfect: an ebb and flow of rationale and ravaging fear, calming himself into steady rhythms and then tumbling outward into stammering, rolling improvisations that lose the ability to orientate their reasoning. When the waves finally arrive, he is manic. His sticks clasp desperately onto cymbals and toms and snares, slipping on the sides of his kit as he sinks, losing strength to the adrenaline of survivalist instinct. When the album finally falls silent – crackles and hisses settling upon the silence like dust and ash – I can’t help but fear the worst.