Cold And Distant, Not Loving

Written by: AP on 23/12/2010 11:35:32

Kerouac first entered my radar as the featured local act when The Chariot rolled into town earlier this year (that is, when I still lived in Southampton), and despite not having their transitions in-set fine tuned to perfection yet, I made a mental note to investigate the band further after the concert. Needless to say, it has taken me months - and for a promotional copy of the band's debut EP to arrive from two separate sources - before I finally made good on my promises and slammed the beast at the top of my review queue. But to save face, the wait was worth it, for I can think of no better backdrop to music as barren and remorseless as "Cold and Distant, Not Loving", than the snow storm currently raging outside.

You see, Kerouac is one belligerent bastard, hostile to anything that might compromise their bitter and violent disposition. Opener "Heavy Hearted" first lulls the listener into a false sense of comfort with a soundscape reminiscent of post-metal, and then systematically deconstructs it until all that's left is the cold grind of "Lay of the Landfill". The following "Little Mountains We Move" uses a similar trick, beginning with a melody that, in this context, could be called pleasant. But past the 20 second mark, the D-beat takes over and steers the song toward sonic violence, sounding like The Chariot on acid. As the minutes clock in, Kerouac becomes ever so antagonistic in their approach, deliberately ignoring anything that might constitute relief.

It takes a concentrated effort to dissect exactly what is going on in "Pale" and "Our Father's Guns", but once the bewilderment fades out the dense and unapologetic compositions begin to make sense. Like the eponymous Jack Kerouac's beat generation literature, "Cold and Distant, Not Loving" is the musical equivalent of spontaneous prose - honest, passionate and never forced. Kerouac play a variant of hardcore that is as imaginative as it is brutal and unforgiving, sounding like the stream of consciousness of four talented musicians beginning at some predisposed sound and then diverging in multiple directions to create a maelstrom of noise on par with the proprietors of orderly discord: The Chariot.

Some might, of course, argue that "Cold and Distant, Not Loving" does not fulfill the definition of what constitutes music - just as Jack Kerouac was often criticized for typing instead of writing, resulting in prose that was neither lively nor energetic. But if the posthumous acclaim that Jack Kerouac now teaches us anything, it's that the stuff of legend is not necessarily immediate in exposing its rewards. Thus, while "Cold and Distant, Not Loving" is certainly a challenging album, one should not be discouraged by first impressions. The feeling here is resolute and designed to overcome the listener, and the focus in maddening the revelations. Kerouac are wreaking havoc because they can, and while that might sound childish and unintelligent on paper, the music has been written as cathartic value. It stems from emotional struggles that are unmistakably personal.


Download: Lay of the Landfill, Little Mountains We Move, A Bastard Behind the Eyes, A Sheep. A Well
For the fans of: Bastions, The Chariot, Lavotchkin, Throats, Touché Amoré
Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.12.2010
Tangled Talk Records

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