2003, r: 2004
et’s cut the crap and get down to business. I know, I know. You probably expect a paragraph on quantum physics or perhaps a brief autobiographical sketch on the author of this review. This is a music review, after all. But this review begins with what you’re really looking for: I endorse this album. I think you should buy this album. Go, loyal readership, and purchase KA.
Buy it, and then put it in a special box and do not open until October 31st, 2005, because KA is the Halloween album of 2005. It manages to achieve this feat even though it was first released in 2003, on shiny red vinyl, and then reissued on compact disc late in 2004. The CD reissue also includes the excellent Vacation EP, which only enhances the overall effect of KA, despite the fact that Vacation is a comparatively breezier piece of music. Chances are, however, that most of the people who will ultimately hear KA will hear it in 2005, and so that’s where I choose to locate it.
It should already be apparent that Excepter isn’t your average band. Most bands, after all, don’t start their careers with a choice slab of coloured vinyl, followed by a deceptively sunny EP and a cassette-only live album titled Obedience, the cover of which features a rather eerie sketch of a nude woman showing of her, ahem, “anatomy.” That’s just the packaging. The music is something else altogether, utterly removed from their coy visual gags and manga-derived shock value. Impenetrable, challenging, dark, and thrilling—these are just some of the rock critic clichés I could use to describe the music created by Excepter on KA.
Excepter is a band with five members, who play a range of instruments that are primarily, but not exclusively, electronic. Throughout KA individual sounds, ranging from human voices to muffled explosions and stock drumbeats, can be heard in the din. “Din” being perhaps the operative word for the Excepter sound. On first listen, KA can seem dense, foggy, and crowded with too much noise. Although Excepter are a “noise” band, they aren’t Merzbow—they draw on such a wide range of sources that individual elements of some songs could easily find a home on rap, house, or rock tracks. It is this plurality of noises that makes KA so unique and powerful. Just as Excepter draw on a diverse palette, they offer up a diverse listen as well. Many noise bands get criticized for being monotonous, for just doing the same trick over and over. That can’t be said of Excepter and KA, an album that covers a range both sonic and emotional.
Despite this range, however, the dominant vibe of KA remains ominous, brooding, and dark. From the disembodied chorus that opens “Shattered Skull” to the muffled, tortured moaning that closes out the album on “The Fire and the Wood,” Excepter paint a pretty nightmarish picture. The fun part, then, is to sit there, take it, and see just how many moments of surprising beauty you can find. Happy Halloween.
Reviewed by: Ryan Hardy
Reviewed on: 2005-01-14