Kites is less of a band and more of a political statement. A single person adopted the seemingly random moniker, and has (for several years now) been churning out releases of odd, scathing noise mixed with tantric acid folk rock. It sounds a lot like two hippies getting high over the phone, all while babbling about the state of the modern world with the line getting increasingly fuzzy and a Phish album or two on rotation in the background. Seeing that Kites has as much in common with Wolf Eyes (Sub-Pop's malicious noise-mongers) as he does with Woodstock, Peace Trials is definitely a wild ride. In fact, this short but sweet taste of aural assault often alternates between the two halves just mentioned; at some points, grating, acid-melt noise is the norm. At others, "strum, hum, and thrum" folk is the order of the day. No matter what side of the equation, Kites has produced something fairly unique.
Peace Trials starts off with a straightforward acid noise track, entitled "Flag Torn Apart." A better name (and this is not meant in a bad way at all) is 'ears torn apart.' Ominous hums and throbs of gristle-thick noise swirl all around you, as mainman Chris Forgues emits indecipherable wails enveloped in a wall of fuzzy oppression. It's kind of like hugging an angry, black thundercloud, and about three times more jolting. While we're talking about noise, all of the music Kites produces are crafted on homemade sound boards and tinkered strings; the end results gives the band an extremist D.I.Y. ethos that is pretty refreshing if you ask me.
"Something About America" worms into your ear lobes with a simply divine Tantric folk melody; largely drowned out on the noiser tracks, Chris plucks simplistic, clean, and odd guitar strums all while singing in a hypnotizing drone. "Exploded Face" is a cacophony that sounds like music Pac Men would use to torture prisoners of war. Every bit as startling as its namesake, "Exploded Face" will peel the paint of your walls.
In what by now is apparently a common theme, song number four is another folkier tune. Christened "Dirt," it has grown to be one of my favorite tracks here. "Dirt" sinks into a funky groove and surreal lyricism, providing a strong cut.
"Downward/Creepy Crawl" sounds like a couple of trashmen dumping a tool box onto a pile of tube light bulbs at the dump; at least, that's what I thought until the song morphs into a freakish, ambient skittering that might make your skin crawl. It's hellish wall of sound ending will break down what's left of your fried neurons, no questions asked.
"Baby Fawn With Broken Legs" is a delightful folk ballad that sounds like a Hong Kong film score produced by Technicolor loving stoners. Oh, and it's every bit as fun. "True" alternates between piercing hum and a weird, throbbing rhythm that sounds like something George A. Romero might have used in the "Day of the Dead" zombie flick.
Closer "Peace Trials" is a serene, melodic duet between Chris and guest vocalist Eric Rosenthal of Urdog. The two both have very distinct voices, and the track allows them to meld rather fluidly. All-in-all, a solid close to the album.
I find myself enjoying Peace Trials more and more with each listen. The noise tracks are surprisingly interesting, layered, and chock full of surprises. Also, the whole fact everything was recorded on home-made material is pretty interesting. The folk sections are gloriously odd, super-retro, and always weird. I'd call the lighter songs on offer here the strongest of the entire album. However, I can't help but shake the feeling that the strange nature of this recording will make it nothing but a novelty to most. As of right now, I'm still not sure if it's a novelty to me. Regardless, I'd recommend this to pretty much anyone looking for something a little strange, a little fierce, and a little soulful all at the same time. Bipolar to the Nth degree, Peace Trials comes recommended from this author for the adventuresome only.
1. Flag Torn Apart
2. Something About America
3. Exploded Face
5. Downward/Creepy Crawl
6. Baby Fawn With Broken Legs
8. Peace Trials (with guest vocalist Eric Rosenthal of Urdog)