Valeriu Borcos and Eduard Gabia are Karpov not Kasparov, a musical game of chess between synthesizers and drums. Beginning in Bucharest in 2009, the duo soon incorporated an analogue visual artist and contemporary dancers into their live performances, resulting in a theatrical show and a kind of real-time soundtrack to the action around them. The duo’s unique dynamic creates a psychedelic synth-driven sound, combining oriental melodies with upbeat live drums.
“Soundtrack for a game of Chess” is the debut LP by Karpov not Kasparov, comprising a selection of the best tracks from their previous two EPs, which never appeared on vinyl. “Mechanical Turk”, named after a faux chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century, displays the darker side to the band’s undulating sound, as the vintage synth creates a spacey Eastern overlay to the driving bass and drums.
There are moments of downbeat jazz-infused introspection, such as the track “Kaissa”, named after the goddess of chess, as well as the ever-onward kraut drums of “Choose you colour gipsy dark” overlaid with the rise and fall of a pulsating synth.
Yet the record is not simply a dark synth composition, at times K not K sway towards a more playful, experimental pop sound reminiscent of early electronic pioneers such as Harmonia or Vangelis, while still managing to retain a modern, otherworldly feel.
Having garnered great acclaim within their native Romania, their debut EPs also received high praise internationally from sources such as WFMU. While last year, Mehmet Aslan’s re-work of “Mechanical Turk” released on Huntleys + Palmers made waves across the dance floors of the world. They’re now set to release their debut LP on Polychrome Sounds this Summer and will be touring Europe from the end of July.