Just more than a decade ago, Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen O’Malley and electronic impresario Peter Rehberg began to collaborate as KTL. The name was a sort of acronym or secret-project abbreviation for Kindertotenlieder, a new theater piece by choreographer Gisèle Vienne and writer Dennis Cooper. Those early pieces—elliptical soundscapes that seemed to linger in a state of gray luminosity—became the anchor for KTL, the template from which Rehberg and O’Malley expanded and sometimes returned to even when they were not working with Vienne. You can hear those traces on 2007’s menacing III as easily as 2012’s heavenly V.
In 2013, Vienne unveiled The Pyre, another production with both Cooper and KTL. At last, the score—reduced from its original onstage multi-channel configuration to stereo sound suitable for your headphones—arrived last week through Shelter Press. It is a gorgeous and sometimes ghastly work, mixing traces of neon sound with the groan of sometimes-gray drones. “Glass X” is a mesmerizing production, beginning with a single glowing tone that pulls in a galaxy of sound as it moves through space—radiant overtones, lingering bass, curling effects. “SuperMellow” throbs ominously, a low-tuned guitar serving as a canvas for electronics that seem to slice forever into themselves. And the end of “MadHIT” is as delicate as this pair has ever been, the song’s enormous volume sliding slowly toward a single vanishing point.
The Pyre precedes Shelter Press’ upcoming monograph about Vienne’s deserving work, as if providing a musical prelude. The record is available now through Shelter Press in an edition already on the verge of selling out.
KTL performs at Big Ears 2019. Next Tuesday, we will announce the daily schedule for the festival, so you can learn where and when they’ll be performing. Daily tickets go on sale December 7th.