The six tracks on Volume 3 serve as a testament to the group's unique and unwavering commitment to an original sound – one that is undoubtedly crafted with a well-refined taste for international punk and hardcore, but also embraces experimentation. Engineered entirely in the group's home studio and layered with original samples, overdubs, and guest instrumentation from an ensemble of friends. The end result is simple – a highly impressive production that commands repeat listening.
Volume 3 is presented with the recognizable aesthetic of previous Kaleidoscope releases, directed by guitarist/vocalist Information Man [SHDK], though truly a cohesive group effort. Packaged with a Risographed lyric booklet that serves as a proper companion piece to each transmission.
Our take: I’ve been knocked out by every single Kaleidoscope release to date, and Volume 3 is no different. Listening to it again in preparation for writing this description, I kept thinking about what makes Kaleidoscope such a standout band, and I feel like I can’t quite put my finger on it. They have some obvious strengths—Shiva’s blistering, Hendrix-esque guitar playing (which is actually fairly restrained on this release), and the drummer’s consistently inventive and powerful rhythms—but I don’t think that Kaleidoscope is such a good band merely because the people in the group are really good at their instruments. The best answer I’ve come up to why Kaleidoscope stands out is that they are a great band. I feel like a lot of contemporary punk suffers from one-person-band syndrome; a lot of bands nowadays seem to be conceived rather narrowly, quickly establishing a template that they will rarely deviate from. This unity of vision extends to the playing as well… for a lot of bands (particularly hardcore bands), the playing is tight and regimented almost to the point of suffocation. By contrast, Kaleidoscope sounds loose and organic. The musicians trade licks and play off one another’s ideas like a great ensemble should, dancing around one another, alternately yielding and taking the spotlight in a way that quite often reminds me of great jazz bands. Consequently, rather than sounding like one person’s interpretation of a particular sound or style, they sound utterly like themselves… it’s hard to imagine anyone else sounding like Kaleidoscope (and no one does!), because it seems (from my outside perspective, at least), that Kaleidoscope’s sound is very much based around what happens when these particular people play together. Now that they have several releases under their belt, I’m also really beginning to enjoy thinking about how each new release fits into the band’s body of work. While the concept behind any given release (if there even is one) isn’t really apparent, each one nevertheless has an extremely unique tone and voice. As with the ensemble playing I wrote about above, I’m struck by the contingency of it all, how Kaleidoscope are open to letting circumstances influence and shape their music. Rather than struggling to be timeless (or, worse, trying to resurrect some long-expired moment), Kaleidoscope are open to letting their context shape them. Thus, it doesn’t seem like the point is the sound of the band (thus, pithy phrases like “pick this up if you like psych-infused hardcore” don’t really apply), but rather to enjoy the fleeting moment. I’m sure that if Kaleidoscope is still putting out records two years from now they won’t have a lot in common with Volume 3, but I’m OK with that, because right now listening to Volume 3 feels like walking outside on a perfect spring day, knowing that you’re through the winter but that the hot and sticky summer is just around the corner, so you’d better grab this day and make the most of it.