Album Review: Kenzie Gunn - The Kill Room

Album Review: Kenzie Gunn - The Kill Room
by Ira Henderson

Local Halifax boy Kenzie Gunn’s latest album The Kill Room, released this past August and available for free on his bandcamp, is pretty raw.

This is homemade music. It has a lot of potential and some good ideas but it also has some technical and structural problems that hold it back. In the end, this feels more like a collection of interesting demos, sound tests and experiments rather than a polished album. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the seven songs on this album were pumped out in about a month.

Usually, I don’t like song-by song analysis in a review, but I think this album calls for some point-by-point constructive criticism.

The album starts off with “Golden Year”, an Air remix. It doesn’t really work. Too many random fuzzy samples crackle in and out, distorting the nice, quirky rhythm. There is a good idea in there but too much stuttering static gets in the way.

“Keep Knocking” has the worst production value on the album. It’s a thin, hissy and tinny, without any decent bass. I KNOW you can do better than this with Garage Band and the built-in apple laptop mic. The song is also out of place on this album. It is the only punk song and the only song with “lyrics”. I put “lyrics” in quotations because I can only assume that the singer is saying words. The voice is so distorted that the only words I can make out are “…you know…” somewhere in the middle. Why bother writing words for a song if nobody will understand at least enough to know what the song’s about? Also, even through all that distortion the singer is pretty bad, even for punk. The music itself is a straight-forward punky riff that might be decent if it were live and loud enough.

“Scottish Sounding Name” starts with a tentative guitar lick that repeated. Then loud jangly bells come in and hurt your ears, which I don’t think is intentional. I think the mix is off. Then there are some distorted effects that kind of peter out. Again, there is some potential here but it needs some help on the production side. Also, at just over two minutes, it doesn’t really have enough to it to make it a real song. It feels more like a cool intro that doesn’t go anywhere.

“That’s Not the Sound a Dog Makes” is my favourite song on this album. It starts with what I’m pretty sure is a sample of the James Bond theme, then turns into a bunch of distorted noise remixed into a solid techno song supported by a consistent and reliable drum beat. It reminds me of some of Daft Punk’s grittier live stuff. However, Gunn gets a little carried away with making quirky noises and the song ends up lacking much structure.

“It’s a Safe Place Here” is another interesting idea that doesn’t quite work. A remix of several voices into a slow rhythmic harmony, then the drums come in and it gets distorted and that’s the end. Another intro that goes nowhere. The vocals and drums could go somewhere if more time was taken and the vocalist could sing at all. But he can’t sing. He needs to stop right now and go find some voice lessons. It’s painful. And when the echo cuts in on the drums it throws off the whole rhythm.

“Segregated Weekends” is more remixed white noise full of quirky distortion. There is some cool drum stuff going on but it gets lost behind the unstructured noise.

The last song on the album, “Romanticism”, begins with a sample of someone talking about Dali paintings, which is then looped into a weird sloppy rhythm. This is one of the more structured songs on the album. The drums are interesting and playful. The song ends with another sample of someone with a weird accent talking about Dali. It’s probably the most polished thing on the album.

In conclusion, go ahead and check out Kenzie Gunn. It’s homemade, kind of raw and a little inconsistent, but there are some pretty cool bits too and, hey, it’s free.

more Kenzie? - click here


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha, Kenzie did the inside paintings for Thought Machine's "Maiden Voyage" album. If his music is anything like his paintings then it must be pretty damn good