The KBCS represent the musical coming together of four very uniquely gifted, but very complementary, instrumentalists from Hamburg, Germany. Color Box, their sophomore LP, happened almost by accident, born as it was out of a series of freestyle jams.
The core of the band are drummer Lucas Kochbeck, who spends much of his time obsessing about vintage recording equipment, tape machines and the like, whilst adding his talents to the recordings of retro-loving contemporaries such the Bacao Rhythm And Steel Band and the Colemine Records family; keyboard wiz Nicolas Börger, who is very much an in-demand, sound-centric master of the blacks and whites, in the same way that guitarist Lars Coelln lends his skills to a myriad of works across the sonic spectrum; and completing the quartet, bottom end provider Daniel Stritzke who adds a little freeform jazz and hip hop attitude to the mix, but even then you can find his bass holding things down on crossover hits galore.
The album kicks off with three instrumental openers – the first of which, Popsicles, is best described by the band them- selves as “a late summer teenage adventure”. Hazy guitars and warm keys playfully amuse each other over a solid, fun- ky beat on what is an evocative and vivid introduction to this talented foursome. It’s followed by Whistleblowers, a sweet and somewhat whimsical piece where another sturdy bottom end allows keys and strings to enjoy some lively interplay, and Jolly Tumbleweed which, with its optimistic yet melan- cholic feel, completes the trio of warm, hazy psychedelic grooves to ease you into an album that circumnavigates 360 degrees of soulful music.
Adding some garnish to this rhythmic stew are an impressive collection of special guests.
Berlin based, and internationally adored vocalist Olivier St. Louis sprinkles a little Cali sweetness with the head nod- ding Pockets – one of the most immediate and soulful cuts on the album. A guaranteed ear worm, bringing a little sunshine to the winter months to come.
Elsewhere, multi-talented Nigerian singer Nneka lends her distinctive voice to the very succinct but powerful Afro-soul of Ndidi; the enigmatic Lui Hill lays his soul bare with honesty and candor on the alluring Albatross; Tel Aviv born J. Lamotta gives The Center a somewhat delicate and fragile dimension that plays perfectly alongside graceful guitars and contrasts with a sturdy backbeat of bass and drum; and Viviane Ann, AKA Bowie, smooths out the rough edges on the very radio friendly Wasting All Your Lovin’.
Despite these polished guest performances and seemingly silky and sultry sound, every track on Color Box was born out of a live jam. The project allowed all four musicians a sense of creative freedom they perhaps don’t find elsewhere in their musical 9 to 5. It was a natural evolution from being sidemen and session musicians to taking centre stage together and allowing themselvesto be more experimental with their output. Mistakes are embraced, musical rabbit holes are explored, allowing emotion and spontaneity to shine through. Nowhere is this more evident than on the instrumental cuts on the album. Tracks like Deep Color Jam, Moonshine and the (humorously entitled) Pho Tang Clan have an ease and effortlessness to them that only comes from a group of musicians who are, in turn, at ease with each other – even if they’re not in the same room!
Funkier jams like He’s Coming and the Moog madness of Rainbow Runners, featuring Flo Mega, depict a band who are playing the music they love from the very bottom of their souls. This is indeed music from the heart;
a document of their coming together; and music that needs to be heard live!