Review : K-Holes - Dismania
PopmattersDismania is a complex listen and often times seems at odds with itself. There’s a certain level of the “everyone-for-themselves” aesthetic that was championed by the New York No-Wave scene in the ‘80s but there are so many things that click, that it just ends up boasting an illusion of that particular brand of ramshackle nature. That’s not to say that Dimania isn’t an incredibly chaotic and often times claustrophobic listen. There’s still a sense of pride exhibited in the K-Holes’ ferocious raggedness that suits their brand of drugged-out noise-punk incredibly well. All throughout its run-time Dismania maintains a perfectly schizophrenic pace which ends up adding to several of the songs rather than distracting from them, like the narrative of a vivid fever dream.
The brute blast of aggression that Dismania impressively sustains to its conclusion begins at the very beginning with “Child”. That particular track features a discordant saxophone weaving its way in and out of a nightmarish Cramps-esque blast of lo-fi blues-ridden punk with one of K-Holes’ vocalists not so much singing as howling like a mad prophet, in the same vein as early Nick Cave. It’s a formula that the band repeats throughout Dismania, even when switching vocalists, and it works wonderfully. Had the band opted to go for a less harsh style of vocals, it would’ve created a contrast too noticeable for Dismania to really stand as a complete piece.
“Rats” quickens Dismania‘s pace and helps it delve further into a nightmarish space that the band occupies perfectly, offering lyrics about “buckets of blood”. There’s a sense of violent unease running through several of these songs that’s really brought out on “Rats”, helping make it an early highlight. “Frozen Stiff” starts showing the band’s similarity to early Black Lips, which isn’t a surprise, considering that one of the members of K-Hole was at one point a member of the Black Lips. Things start to slow down a little with the eerily ambient “Acid” and then way down with the noir-ish “Window in the Wall”. That pairing exhibits an unexpected range from the young band and suggests they could have a lot more to offer down the road....full text
AllmusicThe K-Holes are a band from New York City, and you don't need a press release or record review to know it. From the first notes of their sophomore LP Dismania, the grime, depravity, desperation, and sometimes fun of the big city come through in screaming waves. Guitarist/vocalist Jack Hines did some time in the Black Lips before relocating from Atlanta to N.Y.C., but the heat-stroke garage rock of his previous band is relegated to only the faintest of echoes in The K-Holes' sound. Rooted instead in the late-'70s no wave scene (Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, DNA, the Contortions), nods to the swampy twang of the Gun Club or the weirdo stomp of the Cramps are as close to garage as the ten tracks on Dismania get. Explosively disjointed songs are accentuated by Sara Villard's saxophone skronk, and Hines trades off lead vocal duties with demented powerhouse Vashti Windish. Windish pushes out the crowded concrete jungle sentiments with just a hint of leopard-print glamminess. The K-Holes probably represent the underbelly of broke artists, junkies, and hustlers in 2012 as accurately and dangerously as the Velvet Underground did in 1969. Without leaning on their sound at all, the paeans to the roaches, rats, and high rent of "Nightshifter" are a much darker update to Lou Reed's classically seedy street scenes. "Rats" takes it even further, likening a cast of characters to the sewer-dwelling rodents that are omnipresent in Big Apple living. Elsewhere, Windish's howling cries on "Acid" and droning lament on "Numb" recall the most ferocious moments of Lydia Lunch's early days. The in-the-red production matches the band's nihilistic downtown sounds, enveloping these reckless songs of bad decisions and life barely worth living with a palpable danger. The K-Holes' breed of raw rock & roll is a heavy load to bear for the entire duration of an album, with songs tending to sound a little samey by the final quarter of Dismania. By the time album closer "Nothing New" rolls around, Hines wobbles up to the microphone to spit out "I look like a cadaver, every morning after" like a partied-out Idiot-era Iggy Pop. The song stretches on, encapsulating the sonic hangover and frustrated violence of the entire album with absolutely zero resolution. It's a fitting end to an album so indebted to the New York experience, a celebration of all the dead ends, raw nerves, and impossible possibilities deep in the nights of the city that never sleeps....full text
EarbuddyAfter listening to Dismania, K-Holes’ name is understandably suited for the band. Per the press release, K-hole (kā-hōl) is “a slang term for a subjective state of dissociation from the body which may mimic the phenomenology of schizophrenia, out-of-body experiences or near-death experiences.” Dismania always lunges forward across its 10-song track length, never backing down or taking a moment to rest. Visceral guitars and angry vocals blast in thunderous distortion while a saxophone can be heard bellowing throughout.
The saxophone comes as a surprise on Dismania, serving as a gentle contrast to the music’s abrasive nature. However, it doesn’t always play nice, and does pack a schizophrenic wallop on “Acid”, swirling through the kaleidoscopic guitars and echoed vocals as if it’s summoning a cobra from a basket. The sax also aids in casting a trance inducing spell on the album’s closer “Nothing New” that lives up to the band name’s promise of an out-of-body experience.
Dismania’s mood is unabashedly dark as K-Holes aim to free listeners from the confines of work and materialism. Their sound suggests chaos and anarchy, but it’s surprisingly cathartic. The closest that K-Holes come to a conventional song is “Window In The Wall” that might be a love song, yet it’s cloaked in a creepy, gothic haze with a twisted vocal delivery. I suppose love is another concept that K-Holes have in their cross hairs, and Dismania proves that they hit their targets...full text
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