Artist: Three Second Kiss
Catalog #: AT040
Keywords: Math Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Bologna, Italy’s Three Second Kiss (also known as TSK), now twenty years old at the writing of this review, brings its sixth album with 2012’s Tastyville. Describing itself as “post punk rock noise math,” the three-piece consisting of a bassist/vocalist, drummer, and guitarist hammer out psychedelic cyclical rhythms that swirl around various, often vocal, focal points. As with all math rock, the structures of the songs on Tastyville are complex and technical, yet TSK’s particular take on the genre is remarkably fluid. A lot of math rock sounds like a bunch of complex riffs carelessly slapped together, but these tracks flow with a powerful sense of purpose that unites all of the sudden phrasing shifts. Like a tawdry Hollywood romantic comedy, pieces that initially seem juxtaposed and awkward turn out to be made for each other, brought together by meticulous construction and a clichéd scene where they confess their love for each other outside in the pouring rain.
“Don’t you get it? I love you fast, complex guitar patterns!”
“I’ve always loved you slower melodic phrasing.”
“Why didn’t either of us bring an umbrella? It’s pouring rain on this street that is normally packed with traffic, but is oddly empty now that we decide to climactically express our feelings for one another.”
“Oh, my love, let’s stop this talking and kiss for at least three seconds!”
… um … well … okay … except for that last part.
Tastyville’s cohesive tracks are such thanks to repetitive song structures and a strong rhythm section. The guitar here is highly-technical, with scurrying riffs that bring to mind the flurry of a spider’s legs in full stride. These passages are placed next to each other and often trade back and forth: riff 1 dances and winds, then riff 2 takes the pace in a different direction, until bleeding back into riff 1, et cetera. This exchange often plays out over the first half of a track, followed by a new phrase that is quite different from the ones that came before, until finally picking back up again with one of the earlier riffs. This repeated musical conversation on tracks like the opener “Caterpillar Tracks Haircut” establishes a groove that is not obvious from the onset, but is easy enough for a listener to wrap their ear around after a couple of bars, and the laid back shift in tone in the second half adds a new dynamic that brings everything together in a nice way. This is further supported by prominent bass parts and expressive drumming, exemplifying the best kind of rhythm section that not only provides a strong back bone to support the material (even with multiple phrasing and tempo shifts within a single track), but adds a harmonic counterpoint to the darting guitar. Three Second Kiss’ full sound on their sixth album firmly defines them as a synergistic group that plays kooky, oddly fluid songs, with unquestionably solid execution.