Strange connections -- Bilbao meets Japan via Berlin on a record that will put you in a constant state of WTF. ASMR rock? Post-internet punk? A political manifesto in times of generalized madness?
After his acclaimed 2017 destructo-punk single on Munster Records,
Al Karpenter now delivers his mature, complex debut LP on the world's premier record label for adults, New York City's Ever / Never.
Al Karpenter is an elusive figure. On this record, he comes off like "Che" Guevara fronting Suicide in the year 2020: In halting, quivering tones, he warns us not to fall asleep, even as he slips into a dream state; he reminds us that we must not give up hope even in these times of collective self-destruction; then he shakes our very core with an agonizing scream. There is no resignation, no giving-up, and no mourning for a lost future in his work. Instead, Al Karpenter pits the burning energy of the present moment against older underground musical forms, playing things "wrong" as a technique for exposing the fundamental wrongness of consensus reality. His record is a puzzle, a conundrum, at once conflictive and erotic, violent and beautiful.
Yellow Green Red's Matt Korvette described Al's debut single as ”Very deconstructed and cuckoo, as if one of Fushitsusha’s psychic jams was condensed into a couple minutes of indigestion" -- a perceptive appraisal, seeing as Al is now joined by time-bending drummer and percussionist Seijiro Murayama, whose early credits include Fushitsusha’s Double Live. Further strange connections include key players from Bilbao's exploratory music scene -- drummer Joxean Rivas of Bilbao's demolition unit Killerkume, experimentalists María Seco and Mattin -- alongside the legendary Chie Mukai, of Japan's Ché- SHIZU and the seminal East Bionic Symphonia school of improvised music. Tying it all together everything are the lucid sexophone and electronics of Lucio Capece.
If it is no longer possible to dream of a just and equitable future, Al Karpenter's answer is to shout desperate truths, to disrupt the notion that "weird" music is the province of the connoisseur, the specialist. For Al Karpenter, the ugliest racket and the most sensual textures are instruments for change. He transforms his angst, fragility, and sense of powerlessness into a force for destroying(-)destructive Nonsense. Al Karpenter's love-cry, his healing force, is violent and fragmented and paradoxically smooth. Things are not right, he insists, and we will not make music that pretends they are. -e/n