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Posts Tagged ‘psychodrama’

I’m wading through books by Leon Uris and Will Self, among others, but have little to report at the moment on writing or reading. I would like to note, however, that the last Khanate album, CLEAN HANDS GO FOUL, is finally out after a four-year wait. The album consists of four improvised musical pieces adorned with Alan Dubin’s psychotic screaming and corrosive lyrics; the music was recorded during the sessions for CAPTURE & RELEASE, the last album the band released before breaking up, and the vocals were added later (much later, which is why the album is just now appearing after so many years of sitting on the shelf).

Khanate was unique among modern doom / drone bands for both their sound — they were one of the few musical (as opposed to noise or free jazz) bands ever to master the concept of escaping the tyranny of the beat — and their attitude, which was closer to the reenactment of powerful psychodramas more than anything else. Khanate’s albums are not just music, they are exercises in role-playing, in which vocalist Alan Dubin acts out the frightening thoughts of insane, dangerous psychopaths, and does so in a manner that’s far more nuanced and unsettling than the obligatory death-rattles of your average metal band. (For the record, I don’t think Khanate were really a metal band, although they were tagged as such because their first two albums came out on uber-metal label Southern Lord and their first one, made while the band was still getting its turds together, did actually sound like a metal record, sort of… a slowed-down and hideously grotesque one, sure, but still recognizable as actual music with beats you could count and riffs you could detect. All that changed with their second album, THINGS VIRAL, and everything after that just got further and further out into experimental territory.)

Their final album is both their most subdued and experimental, ending with a half-hour track in which very little happens, but in a most disturbing way. (Dubin’s agitated vocals and unnerving lyrics might have something to do with that.) I don’t know that this is the most appropriate place to start with if you’re not hep to the groaning mindfuck that is Khanate, but it’s certainly no blemish on their stellar record. It’s not as brilliant as THINGS VIRAL, but then, that album is my vote for the scariest and heaviest album ever made. It’s still better and more genuinely frightening than most of what passes for metal, that’s for sure. The artwork is great, too, with a heavy BLAIR WITCH PROJECT vibe (note that “In That Corner” is almost certainly influenced by the final harrowing scene from that film, a piece of cinema whose aesthetic is very much in line with Khanate’s approach to music).

Bassist James Plotkin reveals the secret behind Khanate’s unique sound.

The best article ever written on the band and its inevitable breakup.

READING: Leon Uris — THE ANGRY HILLS
HEARING: Khanate — CLEAN HANDS GO FOUL

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