Review Summary: A multi-faceted rock album that combines sonic experimentation with strong melodies to startling effect.
Belgium-based Kapitan Korsakov (KKK for short) are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to underground rock. The trio's downright experimental tendencies make them fairly difficult to pin down. Their critically acclaimed debut disc, Well Hunger
, delivered an abrasive blend of ferocious noise rock and drone-induced sludge metal, which resulted in a welcome change of pace in the current rock scene populated by bands which struggle to come up with their own distinct style. Kapitan Korsakov didn't seem to have difficulty finding their own niche. Such enthralling tracks as “When We Were Hookers”, “Sink Sleeping” and “Cozy Bleeders” displayed enough individual identity to be regarded as their own, evoking deranged gonzo rock aesthetics in the process.
Released early this year, Stuff and Such
rekindles the act's fury and moulds it into way more groove-oriented soundscapes. The refreshing onslaught of “Quicksand Surfer” is composed of a simple drum beat, a shoegaze-inclined wall of sound and menacing screams that build to an intense climax. In contrast, heavy rock of “Don't Believe the Hope” is based on absurdly groovy, hypnotic guitar play which provides a backdrop for impressively spastic drumming. This style is also captured on a series of phenomenal instrumentals throughout the disc, the most notable of which is complex “Cheese is Christ.” The track displays an amazing textural synthesis of pounding bass lines and massive guitar riffs in a way that resembles the work of popular math rock group, You Slut!
There's another unexpected facet to Stuff and Such
that was nowhere to be found on the trio's debut. Namely, Kapitan Korsakov significantly enlarge their stylistic palette through a shift towards less bombastic and more accessible songs. Sonic Youth echoing “Cancer” may be their first legitimate hit with its rampant, sing-along chorus and sly garage rock aesthetics. The act also surprises with equally catchy, stripped-down ballades that feature clean vocals only. Beatlesque “Lest My Water Break” is wonderfully subversive in its lyrical content, whereas idyllic “Piss Where You Please” is a delight due to its playful mandolin melody. However, it's epic “In the Shade of the Sun” that has to be the grandest singular achievement of the band to date. This nearly 9-minute-long composition quietly builds to a spaced-out coda followed by a sudden outburst of spacey guitar soloing and a vocoder-ridden vocal performance being nothing short of poignant.
Just as its title suggest, Stuff and Such
comes as a collection of various tracks revolving around the myriad of influences rather than an entirely cohesive album. Despite this, the song craft is so immensely powerful that the record may solely serve as a perfect antidote for all the pseudo rock outfits that deliver one lacklustre and unimaginative album after another. Kapitan Korsakov just prove to be head and shoulders above them, surpassing even most of their fellow noise rockers in the process. Versatility along with a novel approach to sonic assault are the trio's tokens of recognition that set them apart from numerous peers on this exceptionally diverse album.