Volume 1, the debut album from Chicago’s KVL—the trio of percussionist Quin Kirchner, keyboardist Daniel Van Duerm, and bassist Matthew Lux—is a thoughtful mix of ambient jazz that carefully unfolds through the layering of acoustic and electronic textures. It’s a cloudy, meditative record best suited for headphones, or for stereos in quiet rooms that encourage solitude.
At certain points, the music is barely there, almost fading into the background and becoming white noise. Silence is Volume 1’s main draw, and on “Peaceable,” Kirchner all but disappears, his faint drumming receding to guest Jaimie Branch’s soft trumpet wails. On her recent album, Fly or Die II, Branch emitted shrill tones to lament U.S. politics; here, she takes the steam out of her instrument to give “Peaceable” a sultry essence. Compare that with “Bladewalker,” the LP’s nervy 16-minute centerpiece: The band locks into a mesmerizing loop of bass, warped keys and muted drums, giving a sense of finality. Then the trio lunges forward—cymbals start crashing, and the synths grow darker and edgier until the song fades out. On an album full of lush tranquility, “Bladewalker” snaps you back to reality while foreshadowing KVL’s next move.