Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kowloon Eletrika

I listen to a pretty wide variety of music. Always have. Always will. On top of having a brain, I'm a musician, and I worked in the industry. So, music is an Art that I relate easily and well to my life. It seems silly to me to limit my listening then, to one style or another.
That having said, of course I have tastes and preferences. A Big preference is for guitars, and that's probably been pretty obvious. Guitars, at this time in history, means you're going to end up in "rock" territory, so, yeah, I hear a lot of rock music. That still allows for a lot of diversity. Take the two bands I've been listening to, today: Kowloon Walled City and EletriKa. About the only thing they really have in common would be guitars.
Kowloon Walled City start with an amazing name, if you read history. If you don't, it'd be like naming the band "real-life anarchic city of sin and reward". The band do a kind of sludgey avant-metal that owes to black Sabbath, King Crimson, Black Flag and Neurosis. In other words, like other bands I like (Kylesa, Kyuss, Killing Joke- what is it with the letter "k"?) this is grimy very heavy, very hard rock done by some very brainy people. Nothing "pop" about this. But, yet, still very musical, and very engaging. If you're a bit of a metal-head, but you feel guilty about it- here's your band. Also, if you're too smart to listen to Zakk Wylde, and you think he's really a wuss hiding behind a musclehead physique, yeah, this is a band for you. Downtuned, loud stuff that isn't processed; raw and vibrant but challenging music for people with an education.
None of that makes EletriKa a dumb band, by any means. But, where KWC are like a Grad student's Stoner-metal tribute band, EletriKa are like an older professional's hobby. Maybe they aren't quite a "hobby", but they are a "second" band for Claudio David, who you should know from Overdose, the long-running brazillian Thrash-metal band. I have been an Overdose fan since the mid 1990's, when it seemed like Brazil could do no wrong between them and Sepultura. Seriously, the mix of poly rhythm and technical thrash metal is a really good listen- try out "Rio Street Progress" or "Zombie Factory". So, the thought of a techno-enhanced version of Overdose was really enticing for me (hey, I like technology. I am not afraid of pro-tools or keyboards) However, EletriKa take a different approach. They're more standard "alternative rock" with some seriously tweaked production (guitars compressed within an inch of their frequency spectrum, for a start). I'm open to everything, so, no, I'm not disappointed, but I guess I'm still waiting for a band that sounds like a combination of Pitchshifter and Soulfly. EletriKa sound more like mid-90's Alt-rock (Alice in Chains, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Candlebox) meets late-90's production. In effect, they have more in common with a band like The Exies than they do with, say, Fear Factory. And you know what? I still like it. I'm good with Alice in Chains style vocal harmonies with compressed guitars playing a white-boy funk rock. The lyrics aren't too special, and there's a definitely lack of concern for a truly conveyed "message" but Claudio still knows his way around a fretboard, and can roll out a cavalcade of false harmonics in a way to create a still hummable melody that's impossible to notate- which requires a lot of Art, in and of itself.
So, what about me? What's my message? The same as always- my taste, your taste, any one's taste can be worthwhile, it just has to be recognized for its own terms. That's the difference between "mass culture" and the culture of the many....


  1. A very strong second on the KWC recommendation. Really excellent stuff. This record was in my Top 10 for 2009.


  2. Listening to KWC today, and some of the first EP can get a bit oppressive, so I have mix it up. Decided that something a bit more rigid would be a nice tonic, so I listened to The Wars they are a yet more teutonic version of Interpol- as in the singer is a dead ringer for the interpol guy- and they are doing a more 4/4 disciplined type thing than even interpol, but there's enough of a chameleons/ big reverby guitar thing that it retains a lot of pop. It seemed to work.
    Now, I've got Beard]+ going in the background: almost completely structureless. Just happy little drones

  3. Will check out The Wars. I grabbed that Beard stuff a few weeks ago. Very cool. Also check out Borr from Minneapolis. We played with them this weekend. Sorta Godflesh through an AmRep filter.

  4. REALLY like Borr. I'm a big sucker for Godflesh, and you're right, this evokes a Godfleshian metal machine music.
    I kinda pre-date the Am-Rep stuff. I was into several things all at once, due to ignorance. I didn't realize that there was a line of demarcation between Punk, Roots Rock, industrial and post-punk, you know? Basically, I saw bands based upon if the name was cool, because all the gigs were between 2 and 5 dollars. So, I got into the doom/math/experimental stuff by way of Godflesh, and I got into Godflesh because I confused them for an industrial band- and hey- they still sound more like Throbbing Gristle than Judas Priest, to me.
    That being said, I'd hardly put myself up as an expert. So, feel free to tell me of other stuff I probably should know...
    As for me, I'm trying to remember the name of this japanese drone metal band that I heard a few years ago that sounded like Japanese traditional music-meets-korn....