What makes for some good catharsis? I just watched Force Majeure, and there’s a moment when one of the main characters screams his frustrations into the silence of the French Alps. It seemed like it was pretty cathartic, letting all that out in a big, fat moment of primal activity. I used to find post rock music pretty cathartic – Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor always had those long buildups and extreme bursts that were just the perfect culmination. Metal too – I like metal.
Nowadays I pretty much just bottle everything up – I’m an unhealthy powder keg just waiting for someone to light the fuse on a future freakout. OK, maybe that’s not true – I’m also a good talker, and maybe I’m just not in the market for primal scream therapy anymore. Kill Alters has some interesting theories on catharsis, though. Bonnie and Nikos make up the duo, but you’ll have to indulge me as I’ll pretty much refer to Bonnie when talking about the gestation of this record. See, Bonnie – who’s also in a band called Shadowbox – found a bunch of tapes that her mother had recorded during Bonnie’s childhood. It’s all there – warts and everything. Bonnie’s mom has Tourette’s and debilitating OCD, so the tapes could get pretty harrowing. But they weren’t all that way.
Bonnie decided to use these tapes as the basis for this self-titled Kill Alters cassette. The source material is melded with electronics and thudding industrial rhythms for a harrowing journey through her past. But it’s undeniably fun as well, and incredibly executed. It would have been quite easy to get bogged down in the source tapes, allowing the recordings to weigh down any potential enjoyment. Opener “A09” traverses samples and trance-like drones before revealing its noise-goth core about halfway through. “D15” moves through similar territory too, as does “D03” and “D20” – in fact, the oddly labeled tracks are more the “songs,” while tracks titled “Silencio,” “I’m Laughing,” “My Father,” etc., focus more on the sampled tapes for feel and flow. These are the tough ones to get through, emotionally (particularly “My Father,” with its weeping central monologue).
Sure, it’s disturbing, but it’s also fascinating, and insanely brave on Bonnie’s part to put this out there. Kill Alters is also really well executed, and the song songs are easy to hit the replay button on. The production crackles, and the beats bludgeon and squirm. It’s actually fun, even though it could be so much darker. And if you’re starting to feel like everything is closing in on you or you’re ready to explode, give this one a shot, and shout as loud as you want. Unless you’re surrounded by people of course – then you’ll just look weird.
RIYL: Atari Teenage Riot, Pharmakon, Crystal Castles