REVIEW – Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ EP, 2012 (“brutal flying bricks of riffage”)

27 Jul

Kabul Golf Club: 'Le Bal Du Rat Mort' EP

Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ EP

A self-styled “pretty young Belgian band” with a penchant for wearing carnival heads, Kabul Golf Club aren’t quite your standard hardcore punk outfit. It’s not just the occasional headgear – even on their debut EP, they butt against the limitations of the form, just as any free-thinking punk should, but not enough do. With Shellac in their lineage of long term influences (and with Lightning Bolt and Blood Brothers in the more recent set) we should expect no less.

Admittedly, they’re not reinventing everything. Singer Floky is still restricted to three degrees of the same top-of-the-lungs hardcore screech. To give him credit, he does manage to inject a little more character into it than most: mastering a tinge of despairing vertigo or the horrified yell of a man falling off the sun. But in many respects his voice is just another rhythmic instrument, its verbal interjections of frustration, resistance and bellowing introspection functioning like an additional cymbal hit or another blind-corner snarl of snaggy bass. The rhythm section of Mattes and Sweeckhoorn pin down the rest of the hardcore content – the jumps and sallies of rhythm, the brutal flying bricks of riffage.

This leaves Floky and the band’s other guitarist, Jeandana, free to charge into a wallowing thresh of disjointed, expressive guitars. It’s here that Kabul Golf Club excel, flinging around a series of wails, roars and hardware noises reminiscent of a lusty scuffle between Hendrix and Tom Morello (or between Sonic Youth and Adrian Belew). While bass and drums hold the band together, the guitars stretch it like taffy, and it’s this that provides the interest. Over the machine-gun riff and buzz-bass of Bits of Freedom they squeal and nose into places they shouldn’t go, shaking the song ever more feverishly as the pace becomes more and more frenetic.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods is a King Crimson-ish march along an atonal scale, minimal in conception, maximal in juddering aggression. Occasionally a Floky vocal becomes intelligible – “just let it go… rats on a sinking ship… wasteground… love has left, love has left.” Beyond his jerky codes the whole story is in the guitars as they scream and fold, balanced precariously on the jouncing riff like surfers in an earthquake. Floky may screech “no sense of urgency” in Minus 45; but everything in the song belies this, from the precision bounce of the ever-changing, ever-dodging rhythms to the warping screeches of the instrumental lines. Somewhere in the middle there’s even a robotic burst of Autotune, before the final collapse into chaos: a grumbling sagging bass drone, plus jingles and swerves of broken-down guitar. Even after the song’s tumbled off its own pulse to lie twisted and sprawled on the ground, an inventive fury continues to twitch the corpse.

If anything, the music gets even more frantic as the EP progresses. 5 Minutes 2 Midnight sprains its own time count, loses itself in a grinding, spasming bounce and inflammatory sprays of noise. By the time we arrive at Demon Days, it’s as if the guitars are sprawling in sheer resistance: Jeandana and Floky yank them violently off-pitch to hit the mood. The resulting trapped riff screams across the soundfield like a gutted tin can, wrapped around the ear.

Assuming that you can take noise rock, ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ is full of rewarding, jagged surprises, and becomes more and more intriguing every time you replay it.

Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’
Uproar for Veneration, UVF007 (5419999105439)
CD/download EP
Released: 10th February 2012

Buy it from:
CD from Rough Trade Benelux: download via iTunes.

Kabul Golf Club online:
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