Kowloon Walled City announce first record in six years, Piecework, out on October 8th via Neurot Recordings and Gilead Media
Oakland-based heavy music savants Kowloon Walled City have announced Piecework, the quartet’s first record in six years. Since their formation fifteen years ago, the band has increasingly refined its deconstructed approach to noise rock, math rock and post-hardcore, embracing dynamics and negative space to a degree that few others in the world of heavy music match. With Piecework, Kowloon Walled City have managed even greater levels of restraint – songs are bleak and slow, but also shorter and more concise, counterpointing moments of austere beauty with stretches of near silence. While the band has always operated under the modus operandi of “less is more”, it has doubled down on that ethos for this new record. Vocalist and guitarist Scott Evans and guitarist Jon Howell, the main songwriters, submitted to self-imposed restrictions in order to push themselves creatively – “restraining ourselves into oblivion”, as Howell puts it.
The negative space amplifies the ruptures of heady aggressiveness that anchor Piecework. Angular guitar notes from Howell skew off the neck, dissolving into space, all the while Ian Miller’s bass lines churn in the muck and the drums and cymbal smashing by Dan Sneddon punctuate dead air – Sneddon, formerly of Early Graves, makes his recording debut with the band five years after joining. There’s sadness and anger in Evans’ shouted vocals, but also a desire for something better; hints of perseverance and hope pushing through the resignation and regret. Piecework feels not only like an artistic accomplishment, but a triumph of resolve and vision. Evans was dealing with the loss of his father during the writing of the record – he found strength in the women in his life, especially his maternal grandmother, who worked at a shirt factory in Kentucky for 40 years while raising five kids. The record’s name and title-track is a nod to her line of work – and her quiet resilience. The themes of absence and death, surrendering to aging, and familial strength and love are all encapsulated in album artwork by photographer Melyssa Anishnabie – the tattered beauty of an abandoned home reveals the faint edges of where life used to be. Evans likens it to watching a grandparents’ house fall into disrepair. As with all previous Kowloon Walled City releases, Evans recorded and mixed Piecework – his impressive recording curriculum includes Thrice, Yautja, Great Falls, Ghoul, Town Portal, and many others -, and like previous records Container Ships and Grievances, the tracks were recorded live at Oakland’s Sharkbite Studios, with minimal overdubs.
Piecework will be released on October 8th via Neurot Recordings and Gilead Media. Physical and digital pre-orders are already available here.
Photo credit: Scott Evans