EP Review: K I Off The Book – EP II

K I Off The Book is a post rock and jazz duo whose new cinematic, instrumental EP caught my attention. A follow up to their 2020 debut EP I, it’s simply called EP II. Here’s my track by track review.

By Graeme Smith

K I Off The Book are life-long friends, Peter Kocso on guitar and Illes Ispanovits on drums, who are based in New York, USA. The pair have taken a DIY approach to this EP, writing, recording and producing the music themselves and it shows in terms of just how personal and immediate it feels.

It can be difficult to instil narrative into instrumental music but, when done right, it can tell a richer story than any lyrical work. EP II is a case of it being done right. The story begins dramatically with GAME 6_orch. Powerful classical strings combine with modern percussion in a tale that weaves and meanders, leading you by the ear through a disorientating maze of music, broken up by a gentle interlude in which you can pause to catch your breath.

We reach the story’s middle through track two 140_orch. The drama morphs into an eerie waltz which morphs again into an urgent arrangement that suggests adventure and conflict. I’m impressed with how K I Off The Book’s music can be so breakneck without becoming overwhelming. They’re with you every step of the way, signposting each change up so that it feels like a natural progression.

The EP closes with the seven-plus-minute odyssey 160_duo. The orchestra is stood down, meaning Peter and Illes can provide a more intimate sound consisting of layers of plucked acoustic guitar and frenetic drumming. Despite the strip-back of the elements, their sound doesn’t lose any of its impact or sense of atmosphere. If anything it gains it. 160_duo is a no-holds-bar type track, where the rulebook is dismissed to great effect.

EP II is a truly astonishing collection from a pair of musicians who know their craft and are unafraid in pushing the envelope. I cannot recommend it enough and I, for one, will certainly be trawling through their back catalogue having listened to it. You can check out the whole EP for yourself below.