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Red Kunz

Red Kunz - Teeth Hair & Skin album artwork

Teeth, Hair & Skin

15th August 2014 – Hummus Records

01. Transatlantic
02. The Beggar
03. Four Good Reasons
04. Prisms
05. Teeth, Hair & Skin

Conventions are there to be broken, but the four musicians that came together under the hybrid banner of Red Kunz earlier this year seemed to be determined to break as many conventions as possible at once with their Teeth, Hair  Skin EP.

For starters, bands have a drummer, a bassist, maybe a couple of guitarists and a singer, right? Wrong. Red Kunz have two drummers and two singing bass players. And that’s it.

Then, once you have your band, you get together to write some songs, rehearse them, play them live and record them. This process takes at least a few months, right? Wrong. Red Kunz came together, wrote five songs, performed and recorded them in the space of a week. Fun.

As their name might suggest, Red Kunz are the coming together of Aaron Beam and John Sherman, the rhythm section of Portland, Oregon stoners Red Fang with Louis Jucker and Luc Hess, two thirds of the uncommonly inventive Coilguns, and who also play as an occasional duo under the name Kunz. The quartet took up residence in a venue in Lausanne, Switzerland to concoct the EP.

Unsurprisingly given the circumstances, Teeth, Hair & Skin is a short, sharp, jam-based affair. There are five tracks in total, which share a slightly spaced out, loose desert rock vibe that definitely sits closer to Red Fang than the squalling abrasion that is the core of the Coilguns sound.

The dual drummer line-up makes comparisons with The Melvins‘ forays into the format in recent years all but inevitable. The pair lock in together, with surprisingly little experimentation save for the freak out that brings the EP to a close at the end of the title track – but perhaps that is a result of the very short gestation time the project was given. However, the fact they never descend into a sloppy or confusing mess is a minor triumph in and of itself.

Similarly, under normal circumstances the addition of a second bass can easily become a recipe for an overly thick and muddy sound, but Louis and Aaron skirt around this problem by dialling in clearly distinctive distorted tones and spending more time higher up their fretboards. They also seem to share vocal duties fairly evenly, more often than not singing together.

Teeth, Hair & Skin may be unconventional and a little ramshackle, but that merely adds to its charm, along with its freshness and immediacy. It’s difficult to pick a stand out track from the five on offer, but “Four Good Reasons” wins out by a nose as being the best representation of the band’s sound.

Given the levels of activity of those involved, and the minor inconvenience of the Atlantic Ocean seperating the two halves of the band, it’s impossible to tell at this stage whether Red Kunz will ever be anything more that a one-off curiosity. Teeth, Hair & Skin is certainly enjoyable enough to make the listener hope that they can find the time to do it all again in the not too distant future.