Monday, April 10, 2017

KOOK - KOOK



Do you ever get the feeling that you’re not alone?  That feeling that you’re being watched…that something just isn’t right…that something…is just a bit off…that you’re being followed…

One day it just appeared there…in my Facebook feed thingy.  This weird symbol that I didn’t recognize “|<00>|” …what could it be, what could it mean?  Was it some sort of mathematical equation to be solved?...  Was it a name, or was it a word?  Was it something unearthly trying to communicate with me?  Was it something to fear, was it some entity bent on harvesting my organs?!?!?!

One day my brother from another and fellow riff-addict Mark hit me and the music junkie (my actual older brother Rob) up to go see a band that was playing in downtown San Jose as they made their way up or down the West Coast, and knowing Mark’s quality tastes in music we were down.  When I looked up the event announcement on Facebook, there was that symbol again!  “|<00>|” staring up at me in this weird stripey lettering like one of those spirally weird things you look at and it seems to be moving…was it coincidence...what did it want from me?  I wasn’t certain what to think but I had to find out what it was!  I tentatively moved my cursor over the symbol like a horror movie actor walking down a dark passage about to open a door onto who-knows-what and pressed my right index finger down on the mouse button.  A mysterious page opened up with the symbol in its’ large stripey letters across the top of the page and some nebulous info along with the words “Elvis Doom.”  Was it a band?... I didn’t see any video or song links, but it appeared that it was indeed a band as there was a show flier with the symbol under the name of the night’s headliner The Great Electric Quest.  What the hell is “Elvis Doom?”  Curiouser and curiouser…

So we went to the show…and one of my organs was harvested…my brain!  As the four musicians mounted the stage and began to play, I was struck by the raw power and volume as the guitarist’s searing singular tone cut through the din like a chainsaw through butter, piercing and warbling (thanks to his handy-dandy red Rotovibe pedal) before ripping into a psychedelic blend of blues and metal to create a sound that was completely alien yet still familiar somehow.  Then the singer faced the gallery with crazed eyes, three foot dreadlocks and, wearing a Freddy Krueger sweater and a single fingerless glove with the letters “OZZY” across the knuckles like the hand of the Ozz man himself, and out came a voice that was equal parts honky-tonk and heavy metal on LSD.  They proceeded through a rip-roaring set with all manner of weird sound effects being produced throughout by the vocals, guitar and bass, as the drums pounded out in all sorts of changing time signatures, bringing order out of chaos in a strangely melodic yet not-of-this-world sound.  In one fell swoop my mind was stolen from me and I was hooked.  Fast forward about eight or ten months after numerous shows in a plethora of bars, some heavy Saturday nights, and even some Beers in Hell to one of my most anticipated album releases in quite some time.

Several weeks ago, KOOK announced that one of the tracks from their forthcoming self-titled album was available for early download through their Bandcamp website, so I went right over to snap it up.  When I clicked the “download” button though, something strange happened…suddenly I’d downloaded the entire album, all six tracks, even though on the Bandcamp page only the one track was listed.  “Hmmm…that’s strange” I thought to myself…that uneasy feeling returned, was it just an accident of technology, or was something deeper going on here?  Was it some sort of alien conspiracy?!?!?  Well, alien conspiracy or not, there were six tracks now in my computer waiting for me to open up and dive in.

Album opener “Play Dead” begins with guitarist Karl Larson playing a bluesy, fuzzy riff before launching into a psychedelic stomp through the tale of a love that is apparently only “mostly dead.”
               
           “So play dead only once because I want you to
My life's a bloody mess, I give it back to you
Lay there I'll tell the monster with the bolts to sing
I don't care anymore 'cause the bell's about to ring

Pain - High - Electric - Sky

Well you're a cold one now and you will be the bride
This ain't no suicide or a heart attack
Lonely I'm all alone then you lay next to me
Once more now to you I say, that the bell's going to ring

Pain - High - Electric - Sky
Electric - High - Electric - Bride

“Not Killing Me” begins with (former drummer) Mike Donofrio beating out a mid-tempo drum riff launching into a moody metal tune with a maddening repeating riff from Larson akin to a chainsaw connected to a wah-wah pedal doubled by bassist Jeff Wilson with Troy Aschenbrenner’s vocals ranging from almost spoken verses to full voice screeching choruses before boiling down to the fuzz-toned bass guitar buzzing into a psychedelic feedback loop, leading to a tripped out equally psychedelic guitar solo.   “Ta-Da/Eye of Gold” begins with a strange voice predicting the Earth’s doom leading into Larson’s wah-infused guitar intro before the band breaks into a galloping tempo as the Earth is burned to ash by the Eye of Gold.  “Crawl” opens with a vibrato drenched guitar as the band starts into a mid-tempo melancholic verse then ramps up to heavier choruses, featuring Aschenbrenner’s most soulful vocal performance on the album.  It tells the sad tale of a vampire on the hunt…call it KOOK’s version of a ballad.  “Demonize” begins with another maddeningly infectious riff doubled by the bass before breaking down to drums and Wilson’s walking bass line while Aschenbrenner croons while channeling his inner zombie Elvis as the demon’s eye awakes.  “Why” closes the album beginning in a psychedelic wave of warbling vibratoed-out guitar before launching into a hectic stomping tempo plodding forward with reckless abandon as KOOK asks “why” the Heaven’s Gate cultists decided to “shed their earthly containers” in a mass-suicide in the ‘90’s.  What motivated them, was it aliens, misguided hope or just plain insanity?

So here I sit, pondering these six tracks…  “Who does KOOK sound like” you might ask?  That is a question that is hard to answer, KOOK ultimately, sound like KOOK, and that is a rare thing these days for a band to have so many familiar qualities yet sound completely different from everything else out there.  Maybe it’s a conspiracy, maybe it’s a cult movement, maybe they’ve come to steal your mind!!!  No, I’m sure it’s harmless.  Why don’t you just sit down there and put these headphones on and stare into this eye of gold and let go of your thoughts for awhile?  I promise, in a few minutes you’ll feel right as the rain…

-Riffcaster




KOOK will be available digitally on April 8th from KOOK’s bandcamp page at:

Tracklist:
1.       Play Dead
2.       Not Killing Me
3.       Ta-Da/Eye of Gold
4.       Crawl
5.       Demonize
6.       Why

Album credits:
Karl Larson (guitar)
Mike Donofrio (drums)
Troy Aschenbrenner (vocals)
Jeff Wilson (Bass)


KOOK are:
Karl Larson (guitar)
Eric Wilkins (drums)
Troy Aschenbrenner (vocals)
Jeff Wilson (Bass)



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