Writing about Kuhn Fu has been fun for me before, but their latest release brings the thunder to such an extent, it’s no longer mere fun – it almost feels like a responsibility. People need to know about this. The government can’t cover this up forever. I mean, a band who can create the most genuinely paranoid, unhinged atmosphere, all black and blue, smokescreens and daggers in the dark, while still preserving a faint pulse of humor throughout the album… well, the media has got to know! We will not be silenced! Wake up, people!
RELEASE DATE: 31 March 2017 LABEL: Unit Records
Alright, I took my tin foil hat off (although you won’t be able to confirm that, so… tough). I’ll get right to the point. The thing about “Kuhnspiracy”, the international quartet’s latest album, is that it’s not your friend. It doesn’t try to be liked, it doesn’t hold your hand, and it doesn’t play nice. But it does play one hell of a mind game. Remember the X-Files’ Deep Throat character, and how Mulder was never really sure whether he was on his side, or on the side of the government conspiracy to conceal aliens? Well, this record acts sort of like that – a well-placed source with seductive and scary things to say, and with suspicious, ulterior motives.
One does not simply listen to “Kuhnspiracy”. Instead, one must engage with it, playing a high-stakes tactical game, trying to balance the satisfaction of having your expectations for ferocity and creative acrobatics met, with the pains of having your musical horizons pushed, almost against your will. You’d want Kuhn Fu to use the crazy, high-octane riffs they built “Kuhnstantinopolis” around two years ago, and they do, but they go so much further, and so much stranger on this latest record, that it might make your mental muscles ache trying to keep up with them. And yet, when you put in that effort and feel the burn, it feels like a breakthrough, the band delivers!
On their previous effort, there seemed to be a fertile argument going on between two halves of Kuhn Fu – guitar & bass vs. drums & bass clarinet. This time around, they’re in it together. The focus has shifted slightly, from interplay between bandmates to stalking the listener in unison, like a pack of predators, like the gang in A Clockwork Orange, like a group of thugs in a Raymond Chandler novel. The mood is far more oppressive this time, a dark cloud of danger looming throughout the record, with one exception – the track “Mono Industrial Post Depression”, which has a kindness and humor to it that comes almost like a sigh of relief. Of course there had to be a bumbling fool unaware of the shady dealings in the background, just for comic relief! I expected nothing less of this band with a flair for the dramatic. I feel that theatrics are at the core of Kuhn Fu’s approach to music, and it’s wonderful to see how they can manifest both within the tracks, and throughout the album as a whole.
Expect to be stressed out by “Kuhnspiracy”. If it were a movie, it would be an excellent thriller. The music is too rich for me to think of it as a potential soundtrack – it’s more like an entire film, translated as album. The experience is cinematic, and while the mood it creates isn’t particularly enjoyable – I mean, who wants to feel paranoid and at risk of impending doom? – the way in which it’s constructed is fantastic! Efficient, focused, wildly creative and unpredictable, “Kuhnspiracy” is a great sophomore album that most certainly deserves attention. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.