By Colin Dierckins

Artists often write songs or tell stories that reflect certain aspects or time periods of their lives. These experiences are brought to life through creativity and soundscapes that can serve as an emotional outlet for the artist as much as it does a listener. For Koen Van De Wardt, moving with his parents from Holland to Norway as a teenager, to live in a small town with no friends, proved to be a live event that provided a wealth of musical inspiration.

Born out of solitude and boredom, Klangstof‘s debut album is a testament to the time Koen spent turning his empty basement into a home studio. Without any formal musical training, he learned to make and record music by himself, eventually recording his first song after two years of tinkering. What followed were a series of happenstance events that led to his songs being discovered on Soundcloud. First, by a Norwegian radio station, then by a Dutch festival promoter, and finally David Dann, founder of Mind Of A Genius Music Group.

Koen’s variety of indie rock is dense, layered, and dark at times. The album seamlessly pairs his introspective and airy lyrics with a wall of sound, dominated by heavy synth and dreamy guitar riffs.

The first single, Hostage, gorgeously builds from quiet and intimate vocals, to a crescendo of sound that engulfs your whole psyche in a way that Radiohead fans will be all too familiar with. On the title track, Close Eyes to Exit, Koen describes the mundane and depressive nature that his surroundings present with woeful harmonies. Perhaps, the most emotional charged song on album is Island, a chilling illustration of the mental toll that growing up in isolation might take on someone. As the final track, it lends itself to be a somber bookend to an impressive body of work.

Klangstof is the newest signee of one of the hottest up-and-coming independent record labels, Mind Of A Genius (MOAG). Started in 2013, MOAG has a strong base of impressive artists on their roster including Zhu, They., and Gallant all of whom have, or are set to, release debut albums this year.

Listen to Klangstof, Close Eyes to Exit via spotify