If you have ever had the chance to see them perform live, you will know that Darwin psychapunksters KAYOSS live up their name. Their stage show is chaotic although their music is very much the opposite. That is not to say their stuff is not true to their punk roots – it has the same energy and raw passion, just done with a bit more panache – and now you get to hear it all on one album – KONTROL.
What KAYOSS actually write and play is deceptively cool and complex when looked at in context with their stripped down, 3-piece live performance. The songs are thoughtfully written and arranged, non-linear and now translate well in the studio with their new album release. These are not the three-chord wonders that many might pass off as ‘punk’ in the old-school sense. There is something bubbling under the surface there, and, as they progress, they are sure to produce amazing work. Which brings me to their long-awaited album release, KONTROL – as the name suggests, the theme is of being controlled, whether in a relationship or by society itself.
I wrote about the lead single from this album, X88D88, when it was launched at the Happy Yess back in March of this year. X88D88 (look at the name closely – it is ‘voodoo’ with a sub-shadow) is a class track that the band should be particularly proud of. First impressions are always best so I am not going to try and find new adjectives to describe this song but simply reiterate my initial thoughts:
‘The single X88B88 is all about control – how society, people and partners control you so the allegorical Voodoo doll motif is apt. The song is in the inimitable style of Kayoss – which is chaotic and visceral yet at the same time ‘together’ and musically sophisticated. Great guitar work by the ‘quiet one’ Rikquishe Wright is always a trademark of Kayoss, as is James Rooney’s often tortured vocals and seizure-like basswork. Drummer Paddy Norman, well he just likes to hit things. Hard. The single itself is far from linear, with cool bass-heavy breakdowns, understated vocals in places and again some sweet solos from Wright, invoking some 70’s licks.’
Money Game (featuring Callum Munro) funks things up before getting seriously up in your face with vitriolic spite (think of the sentiment of Motorhead’s ‘Eat the Rich’) – this is a protest song…nay, that is too lame a label. It’s basically a ‘fuck you’ to those who walk all over others to get to the top of the pile. Clever use of restrained vocals give the song more menace as the sarcasm drips. Livin’ in the Future is more classic Kayoss, bass-heavy with some subtle guitar work overlay that gives the song’s yin its yang. Rikquishe moves effortlessly between subtle psychedelic riffs and pure grunt on this one.
Rainbowtiedie made me think of the Monkees if they were grunge and not a 60’s boy-band – the kind of music you wish they had played back then, something with actual teeth. It has the feel of that era with the existential angst that was not fit for television back in the day. Nice time-travel guys, intentional or no. The pace is slowed for the plaintive Sweetly, with the inimitable, youthful Stevie Jean lending her voice over some sweet(ly) acoustic guitar – a great collab that works very well and is unexpectedly lyrically and musically agile, something you would expect from much more experienced and long-travelled songwriters. Watch this one.
The last minute of Muscle Memory is what happens when Primus and the Chili Peppers (minus the slap) have a baby. It doesn’t start that way though – more of a playfully dark carnival ride in the first three quarters before the waters break and the kid comes out howling. The relationship angst seeps from every lyric. The following track, Cynical Jejune, is a rough acoustic counterpoint to the preceding Muscle Memory and gives a bit of tension release.
Tainted Spectrum (featuring Kiriz Oliver) is more folksy-poppy and radio-friendly and again a respite from the spleen-venting of most of the other tracks. This song is a good example of the range of styles these three are capable of. Immune to Your Disease is a dark, rambling ballad of apathy with moody keys and restrained, tension-building sections that never quite release, which is probably the point – there is no light at the end of this emotional tunnel and it works.
This is some fine, multi-dimensional, quirky work. Don’t miss the album launch at the Happy Yess on June 30 and buy an album when you go there. Home-schooled production by Rooney, with mastering by local Lovely Audio, have come up with the goods so stick it in yer device and crank it.
KAYOSS are performing their entire album ‘KONTROL’ at the Happy Yess, Darwin on Friday June 30 – doors 8.30pm