KEN mode – Loved

We cannot say that the artwork surrounding releases particularly guides or influences our thoughts going into a new encounter but it has to be admitted that the art wrapping the new KEN mode album made a striking impression whilst sparking intrigue and imagination long before a note was heard. Created by the band’s long-time collaborator Randy Ortiz, it is a piece which also inspired the band itself in regards to Loved, their seventh full-length. Vocalist/guitarist Jesse Matthewson ahead of its release revealed that “We entered writing for this album with one goal in mind – to please the smile” referring to the cover’s protagonist.

He also said “We wanted to make an album that represented a thinking person’s reaction to the political/technological climate we are existing in today. We wanted to make the perfect album to put on repeat while pushing your physical limits to their maximum, if only to silence the noise that is constantly whirring around inside of your own head, even for a brief moment.” Listening to Loved, it is not hard to feel they succeeded in both, certainly in satisfying the smile and though whether you can create perfection can be debated but it is a release which stands on the frontline of their most stirring and striking proposals yet.

From the grungier and expansive indie rock inspired endeavour of its highly enjoyable predecessor, Success, KEN mode has in many ways returned to the sonic viscera and noise punk/hardcore toxicity of the likes of Venerable (2011) and Entrench (2013) for Loved. In saying that, the album equally pushes the bold adventure hinted at in Success to far more magnetic, feral, and maybe for some divisive heights. It is unapologetically invasive, a cauldron of sonic violence, and their most invasively dark offering yet and for us more than possibly their finest moment yet.

Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should is the first venomous treat from Loved, the track instantly lancing the senses with a sonic incision before the fierce rapier swings of drummer Shane Matthewson descend closely aligned to the ravenous grumble of Scott Hamilton’s bass. The caustic wires cast from Jesse’s guitar equally infest song and listener making a nagging cradle for the raw throated squall of his vocals all the time rhythms breeding greater virulence in their trespass. It is a glorious nagging of sound taking swipes and bites with every elevation of animosity and twist of enterprise resulting in a deliciously corrosive start to the release.

The Illusion Of Dignity teases with its initial lure before swinging on rapacious rhythms next, Shane’s hits a bone shuddering impact matched in carnal attraction by the resonance of Scott’s bass. Post punk hues add to the noise rock antics bred within the cavernous yet threateningly intimate breath of the track, vocals a toxic animus across the revolving spiral and searing flare up of guitar. As with its predecessor, new intensities fuel and fresh ideation inspires the course of the irresistible intrusion before Feathers & Lips steps forward to prey on senses and psyche. From its first breath it is a challenging threat but quickly springing its own infectious violation as seductively flirtatious as it is menacingly inhospitable. With a web of sonic dissonance and enticement at its heart, it is another which easily got under the skin and infringed upon the senses for rich pleasure.

It there was vague concord in the last track, Learning To Be Too Cold is sheer ill-will and needs a mere breath to invade and suffocate the senses in its corrosive wash and vocal feud as beats again barely labour to punish and incite attention. The vile lure of bass is a treat whilst the sonic scathing from the guitar is a mercilessly nagging breach as magnetic as everything piercing its scarring waves. It is not a song with the same instinctive contagion of those before it but one as memorable while Not Soulmates sets another unforgettable marker with its untamed but skilfully bred cacophony led by vocal discontent.

Very Small Men rears up to share its unique character and proposal swiftly after, dancing in on nimble dynamics driven by Shane’s inimitable rhythmic dexterity. It is soon though blowing a storm of aural animation hell-bent on igniting muscles and addictiveness to flex their instincts as the song’s holler enslaves. It is a thrill of an infestation, discord increasing by every turn of sonic entanglement and emotive dissonance.

From one of the album’s momentous moments to another as the calm swing of This Is A Love Test brings its own array of creative altercation. A jazz nurtured intimating caress is brought by the sax of Kathryn Kerr, its emotive and mellow seducing aligned to vocal reflection but both soon inspiring and joining a rancorous expulsion of frictious inharmony in a schism of enterprise which further inflames ears and thoughts as rhythms permeate the body.

The final pair of Fractures In Adults and No Gentle Art are equally as riveting and argumentative. The first is a senses hassling, evolving drone of disharmony which fingers and violates psyche and self-peace, each wave of creative quarrel intensifying in weight, ferocity, and conflict to disarm and inhumanely seduce while its successor rises up from a connecting rhythmic pulsation, emerging through shadow thick, portentously drenched serenity into almost salacious sonic warfare It stalks the listener from the off, every note and breath bringing a slight elevation in threat and intensity leading to crescendos of visceral expulsions and ravenous corrosion laden discordance again with Kerr’s breath casting creative arson within the gorgeous enmity.

The track is a bewitching, at times bewildering and relentlessly breath-taking conclusion to an album proving so hard to escape and move on to new adventure from. If you are looking for life affirming calm and beauty, Loved is not for you yet in many ways it does feed those desires whilst focusing the senses and thoughts on the reality of the world we are inescapably part of. Self-harm has never been more fun and invigorating than with KEN mode’s latest monster of a gem.

Loved is available now via Season of Mist and @ https://kenmode.bandcamp.com/album/loved

Check out their website for news and dates of their Canadian dates with Shallow in September, US/Canadian tour alongside Birds In Row in October, and European tour with Coilguns and Birds In Row this Nov/Dec.

http://www.ken-mode.com    http://www.facebook.com/kenmode    http://www.twitter.com/kenmodenoise

Pete RingMaster 31/08/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

KEN mode – Success

photo Brenna Faris

photo Brenna Faris

Predictability has never had a presence in the sounds and imagination of Canadian noise wreckers KEN mode, though that in itself is something to be expected. Their caustic and furious brews of post-rock, hardcore, metal, and noise, to mention just some of their flavours employed, have ignited ears and imaginations with a tempestuous almost petulant creativity ensuring the band’s propositions are some of the most persistently and highly anticipated treats. The Winnipeg trio’s new album Success is no exception but this time it has taken a detour which definitely takes assumptions by surprise.

The band has gone back to explore the sounds and invention which were fermenting and fuelling the late 80s/early 90s when KEN mode began to sow its own sonic explorations. The album’s press release lists the album as paying homage to “both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning grunge; and Touch Go/Dischord scenes of, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu warping their teenage minds.” Listening to Success though you can go back further and find the seeds in predominantly post and noise punk with the album persistently sounding like a primal version of Gang of 4 on steroids. It is the band as raw and aggressive as ever, probably even more so at times, and still lyrically stirring up thoughts and emotional involvement, but it shows a new character and new compelling designs from the band which might not quite work for all but here is being greedily devoured.

KMSuccessCover_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     Recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey) and recorded as a fully live and analog session, KEN mode’s sixth album opens with Blessed, a track which from its initial sonic whistle turns into a heavy bestial prowl. Simultaneously a swagger emerges in the grizzly tones of Scott Hamilton’s bass as magnetic jabbing lines the beats of drummer Shane Matthewson. Intimidating restraint replaces their predacious aggression at this point, the vocals of guitarist Jesse Matthewson crawling syllable by syllable with open ire over the addiction igniting web now in place. The song’s volatile instincts soon return to take rein though, almost insidious discord and hostility invading whilst binding excited senses in inventive and mischievous rancor.

The outstanding start kicks up another notch with These Tight Jeans, a song which roars and excites like an illicit union of Nirvana, Black Flag, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Of course that is a mere hint to something unique to KEN mode, the track a rumbling, grumbling contagion of wiry hooks, spicy grooves, and rhythmic badgering. As ever the song is driven by fury loaded vocals but this time assisted by the excellent punk lures of guest Jill Clapham who just adds richer colour to the slimline unbridled furnace on the senses.

The Owl… follows the brilliance of its predecessor with its own gripping dark beauty. A sinister noir lit intrigue escapes the growling bass groove, its drama escorted by the similarly potent landing of drum sticks as vocals dangle their raw tone and narrative over the imagination. An air of Bauhaus wraps the absorbing lure and agitated swing of the song as guitars and bass spring an inescapable menace of a flirtation which only gets darker and more imposing as the emotive intimacy of cello from Natanielle Felicitas returns after first gracing the opener. The solemn gentle passage hugging her enterprise is soon a brawl of noise and intensity again before regaining control in a mesmeric finale which leaves ears and emotions in lustful bliss

The grungy turmoil of I Just Liked Fire explodes next, it too a rebellious blaze for ears and appetite to get lustful over as twisted discord and carnal noise collude to abrase and infest the senses whilst its successor Management Control, with greater restraint crowds ears with a thick resonating bassline and a tangy vining of guitar endeavour. The beats of Shane once again provide disorientating yet anthemic bait aligned to the predatory and contagious groans of bass but sonically the song is more involved and less instant with its catchy hooks and grooves. This is not to say the track is any less virulent than the previous songs, just a more intensive exploration with layers of waiting rewards.

There is a feel of Psychic TV to the following A Passive Disaster as its carnivorous basslines and caustic bellow gets right under the skin and into the psyche whilst Failing At Fun Since 1981 straight after, is punk belligerence at its blisteringly sonic and primitively rhythmic best. Both songs are a jungle of menace and bracing invention, individual noise riots to thrill and linger though they get outshone a touch by A Catalog Of Small Disappointments and in turn closing song Dead Actors. The first of the final pair is an uncompromising persuasion, its stalking rhythms and vocal angst entwined in the rabid theatre of guitar and lyrics. The track enslaves body and emptions with ease, threatening and seducing with every snarl and raw fingering of the senses before its successor takes over with a psychotic and darkly elegant Gang of 4 meets Wire like meander of sound and distress lined emotional reflection. The song is spellbinding, a long term journey taking itself and the listener on a traumatic and turbulently fascinating adventure.

It is hard to say yet if Success is KEN mode’s finest hour such its big enough departure to previous encounters reveals something openly and strikingly different but the seriously thrilling encounter is definitely a contender.

Success is available via Season Of Mist now @ http://shop.season-of-mist.com/predefined-search?id_list=102, http://kenmode.bigcartel.com/, or https://kenmode.bandcamp.com/album/success

http://www.ken-mode.com/

Upcoming KEN mode dates with Fight Amp

June 16, 2015 – Toronto, ON @ The Shop (Parts & Labour) w/The Great Sabatini

June 17, 2015 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus w/The Great Sabatini

June 18, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus w/Pyrrhon, Couch Slut

June 19, 2015 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

June 20, 2015 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups w/Lo-Pan

June 21, 2015 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington w/GOBO’S CVIT

June 26, 2015 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Goodwill w/Pop Crimes, Teethmarks *no Fight Amp

RingMaster 16/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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