I doubt there are many musicians like those who make up the intrinsically and so eloquently named:
KOI – Kings of Improg.
I was introduced to the band some months ago. Though it was first Lloyd McKeen to who I was introduced. Intrigued by some discussions and the Henosis album cover I decided it would be worth my while to go watch their show.
Needless to say that after this first show I was, for lack of a better term, hooked.
Spilling the guts of my soul onto the floor which holds my feet steady. My mind above the crowd poised for observation. It is through the humble sounds I am recovered to reality. How could one want to resist such a passage?
It so happened to be the show of their debut album Henosis. It was an interesting crowd all driven to watch this band. Drawing in with anticipation the room filled as their set began. It was that moment I knew that I had the profound obligation to write about them.
Completely consumed by their show it has been the only time I have felt so light and afloat at a live show. I enjoyed being carried away by a sound a choose to describe as a harmonic aggression.
So on this one particular evening we decide to go and venture into the abyss.
We begin our journey in Queenswood, Pretoria picking up our fantastic photographer, Conrad Bitzer on the way. Little did we realize the length of this journey to Sundowners in Alberton, Johannesburg. The event was Prog Night hosted by one of our favourites Machine Gun Kisses Entertainment. After just over an hour of a drive we arrive at the venue. Rather quaint and well used for a rather small venue. This small and hard to find almost creature-like bar had a certain air to it. Rather underground really. We were greeted with friendly faces, seemingly a bit too eager which contrasted the general dark vibe inside.
I enjoyed the atmosphere as it was weightless.
With no expectation you can relax and enjoy the evening of live music without some troll hitting on you or bar wench falling all over you. It is for all intensive purposes a pleasant bar sitting on the right side of the dodgy – posh scale.
There were first two bands to go up and display their talents.
First on stage was the Fever Dogs. A band I had not heard of before that evening. I was taken aback at how I was immediately reminded of Nirvana, especially with the lead singer. That was just the tip of the iceberg as it were. They definitely produced crowd pleasing music.
As they played on there was some debate as to the influences of the band. We felt an Alice In Chains vibe was being thrust off the stage. Though we had come to a conclusion at our table among or opinions there was still a feeling of uncertainty. I agreed with the vibe I felt there was something more to it. What could their influences be?
It then soon came time for Savage Lucy to make an appearance. It is amazing how quickly they lure you in with excellence and savagery. The crowd always becomes involved when Savage Lucy are on the stage. Almost like a coordinated in chaos has now been lit up by the sound they now hear.
Truly fascinating watching people get lost to their sound. It seems to draw the crowd further and further ultimately holding them in suspense. Taking you on a journey on flying through memories, thoughts and even desires. What a full embrace you find yourself in listening to them live. Landing ever so suddenly when their set ends.
It was finally the moment for KOI to take possession of the stage.
Pulled in by the anticipation I get as close as I can to the stage considering I am a weirdo walking around with a note pad. I take a deep breath as they begin to play. Closing my eyes during exhale it is a comfort to hear them yet again. Hearing the album is a pretty magical experience on its own. Experiencing KOI live is completely different.
I find that KOI belongs to the stage.
If you have the opportunity to see KOI live it should surely not be missed. Being at one of their shows is a unique experience each time. Taking you down a path where you are able to visualise and overcome the parts of yourself you thought were hidden, or even if you believed they didn’t exist at all. Screaming life into you echoing the dormant parts of you. Opening up to its climax you are finally able to let go.
As per my notes KOI is: “a band of desire and absolute addiction”.
Some background on KOI:
KOI began at some point during 2012 when they were invited to a jam session in Brakpan. However it was truly in 2013 when the band realised they were making some fine ass music and got a little more serious. Taking some time to understand which instrument suited whom they finally had their first gig in 2014. And after some minor changes they eventually came to be the KOI we know today:
- Byron Muller – Bass / Guitar
- Lloyd Mckeen – Guitar / Bass
- Chad Snell – Guitar
- Slade du Randt – Drums
One of the changes included changing the original name Kings Of Improv to Kings Of Improg. Steadily cementing their niche brand and sound.
Launching their debut album on the 20th of May 2017 at the Railways Cafe in Irene, Centurion, South Africa it was marvelous performance. Their debut album being Henosis of course.
“We recorded with our very own Byron Muller and Audio Nebula on the East Rand of Johannesburg, South Africa. With us all being from the East Rand(Benoni, Brakpan) it was great to record in our own ‘backyard’. The recording itself was a pretty amazing and expansive adventure, a process that we savored and enjoyed along every step of the way. (Being a part time undertaking, and trying to hold down day jobs, it was a case of getting into the studio at every available opportunity, albeit sometimes weeks apart).
Henosis is our debut album, it’s a 6 track long eclectic and progressive concept album. The word Henosis itself is derived from the Greek word for mystical “oneness”, “union”, or “unity.” There is no one explanation or meaning for the debut title in this regard i.e. the KOI inaugural record, it was just something that seemed the right fit when trying to explain what we had created. In broad terms, it’s a connectedness of one and all, living and otherwise, in this mass conundrum that is our Universe.”
The album in and of itself borrows from a broad range of musical influences and contains many themes and ideas, not necessarily specific to any one interpretation, but as a whole introduces and espouses to us a union of ideas, bringing together a blend of tones and melodies, themes of dark and light, joy and sorrow, an emotive and continuing journey through the cosmos of our own minds.
The mastering was done in New York at Silvertone Mastering by Larry DeVivo. He was able to put that final magic touch onto the record which brought everything together into a cohesive whole and put the cherry on the top of the auricular picture we had wanted to paint from the start, and that made the entire process all worth it.”
Get to know KOI
Follow KOI for Upcoming Events
Instagram : @kingsofimprog
Twitter : @kingsofimprog
Our amazing photographer
Conrad Bitzer has been with Blk-Ink Studio from basically the beginning. He is a talented photographer and, in my opinion, a fantastic videographer. All the beautiful shots are accredited to him.
He is a great partner to have and always a pleasure to work with. I urge you to take the opportunity to use his services while he is still available.
For more on Conrad’s work checkout our Staff Spotlight on Conrad Bitzer