Monday, 9 August 2010

Ten Kens - For Posterity (FatCat)

It is said that the amount of studio time that the eponymous Toronto hardcore psychedelic rock act Ten Kens spent on recording their second album was bordering on unhealthy. It was said that they had made the transitions from a magnanimous live act to living, eating and sleeping the production of their music, from dusk till dawn.

Well, it is my pleasure to announce to you that all those hours that this hard working band put into perfecting and honing their craft has not been vain. This is because their second offering ‘For Posterity’ is a fantastic continuation of form and something that is sure to delight their fans. It is also an album that draws in any new listeners to the group, such as myself, and grabs them and refuses to let them go before the last note on the albums rings out.

It is in this spirit and fervour that the album begins and we are treated to a drum solo to start the album with ‘Johnny Ventura’. You can tell Dan Workman and his band mates have been doing their homework on their psychedelic and progressive roots as you can almost be transported back to the early days of Pink Floyd as Dan lets out a Roger Waters-like wail over the thrashing guitar riff which is Ten Ken’s weapon of choice to get their musical message across to the masses. However, this is not to say that this group doesn’t have their mellow times on the record as we are treated to a break from their angst in the middle of the track. Ultimately, this track ceases in the chaotic fashion that it embellished at the start.

‘Back To Benign’ also shows the band taking on the influences of musical history as one can detect a touch of ‘Echo and The Bunnymen’ both in the rhythm and vocal sound. That is a key part of what makes this band so unique. There are no clear lyrics to be heard per say, as they are deep in mix and enshrouded by reverb, but the tones of the vocals is what carries each song.

Without doubt one of the rawest songs on the album is ‘Insignificant Other’. Their limits seem boundless and the band is left to flex their talent to their liking. This freedom is continued in the title track ‘For Posterity’ as both Punk melody and vocals are added to the cauldron to add to the bands relentless impact on the listener.

‘Screaming Viking’ is short and sweet but one of the best on the album. The whole track feels like a war cry and this is emanated from each instrument and voice and surmounts to two and half minutes of pure energy that is very rarely seen these days.

In ‘Summer Camp’, the bass guitar gets thrust centre stage and the vocals get brought out of their dream-like state to the forefront. This ambience is continued on to ‘Grassmaster’ where the music builds up slowly to a crescendo that sounds like many strings were shredded in angst.

In ‘Style Wars’, the longest track on the album, we are treated to a song that is very reminiscent of Oasis but the melody works more on chaos theory than any set structure. This is a track where you can see that the band must whip their followers into a riotous throng when they ply their art live on stage. ‘Hard Sell’ and ‘Welfare Green’ bolster the album with two more powerhouse songs, however the latter displays a slightly more melodious and softer edge that carries on to the end of record.

In my opinion, ‘Yellow Peril’ can definitely be considered one of the best on ‘For Posterity’. It is a tune that works very well in the studio and will certainly be a crowd-pleaser when they tour. It proves that there is more to Ten Kens than punchy riffs, however there is still a touch of this fury at the end. The album ends with the fitting ‘Can Not Be Dark’ and leaves you with the nice feeling that at least there is a band out there that cares about their music that they are willing to sacrifice a lot for in.

Ten Kens may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can be rest assured that they will put their heart and soul into every endeavour that they accomplish and will not leave you unhappy.

Words : Barclay Quarton

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