I can’t tell you how much I love a good genre bending record that makes you get up off your arse, stop being a lazy listener and actually engage with the music. I recently found myself two hours deep into a Spotify tangent of free improvisational electronica on the weirder forgotten tracks of some Late Night Tales compilations. The inspiration for my explorations? The rich and varied musical material of White Kite.
White Kite are electronically orientated, self-proclaimed “alt pop for introverts”, put neatly. Brooding soundscapes, heady choruses and ambient guitar loops are plentiful here.
Their first single “Swans” only appeared earlier this year, and for a band with such a short existence, White Kite are on an impressive upward trajectory. They’ve gathered 23000 monthly spotify listeners and slots at the latest Latitude Festival. We’re limited to about five songs at the moment, but its all promising.
White Kite are actually an electrified, pared down rebirth of previous group Fossa, who I happened to catch live circa 2015. Naturally I was interested to see how their musical shift came through in concert, and so rolled up to their gig at Ace Hotel for the single launch of “Devil’s Pact“.
For three guys on a stage, White Kite know how to make some noise. Choruses that border on anthemic and funky basslines managed to move the feet of the most determined navel-gazers: do not underestimate the achievement of managing to make a decent party when you advertise yourself to the awkward indie populace. Swans and Past Life were particular highlights, proving irresistibly groovy.
For such technology driven tracks, everything was recreated with pleasing integrity*. The new material is still organic** enough to allow a live show that wasn’t totally pressing buttons, as is always the struggle of live electronic music. White Kite have a natural cohesiveness on stage that presumably arises from their years of playing together.
We’ve glimpsed their experimental and jazz influences before (dating from singer Louis Shadwick’s family background in the genre), but tasteful addition of muted trumpet at various points throughout the set was a really nice nod to this. “Devil’s Pact” is also a bit of a bolder step in this direction, with a more moody groove.
The hazy laziness echoes artists like BadBadNotGood or possibly Flying Lotus. Of all the content, this has most scope (beyond just catchy choruses); it’s a promising direction to be headed.
The addition of an on-stage flashing contraption in the shape of the Swans sleeve artwork added to the entertainment- with some particularly epileptic moments – but also reinforced how White Kite are an image as well as music.
Clash Magazine hit the nail on the head when they identified how direly current pop music is in need of cooler personalities, and White Kite could be in an ideal position to exploit this niche. Their spotify picture is a mildly Kraftwerk-esque monochrome photo waist-deep in the ocean in shirts and ties, which I think speaks for itself.
Walls of sound built out of the ethereal vocal loops on new tracks like “Mountain To Mountain” or “Wanderbug” intimate at some of the big names, barring the odd technical or tuning hitch. If you played me Sohn’s “The Wheel” and told me it was a White Kite track, I might temporarily believe you.
To sum up, they’re brooding, ambient, infectious, and upbeat enough to dance to (what more do you need?). The content is only getting more interesting. So, right now we see White Kite on the cusp of exciting things. The discography is pretty solid – all we are lacking now is quantity. An EP wouldn’t go amiss!
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Words by Immy Hequet