Whether it be the intense musings of The Twilight Sad, Max Richter's minimalist techno or Hauschka's classically constructed sketches, you can bet your bottom dollar that Brighton's Fat Cat imprint will be on the case before anyone else. Its roster not only holds little in the way of musical boundaries, but it's never let logistics get in the way, the signing of Toronto foursome Ten Kens being a prime example.
Having formed at the back end of 2003, it took several changes in line-up and direction for their nuances to make an impact, and even then 2008's self-titled debut was something of a patchy, at times languid affair. Nevertheless, the confused glances aroused by that record undoubtedly paved the way for the follow-up, and For Posterity is a minor revelation.
While still gallivanting around influences ranging across four decades or more, Ten Kens' eclectic discordance is the key here. In some ways similar to fellow musical chameleons Liars, TK display an uncommon knack for lulling the listener into a false sense of security before veering off for the final third, ensuring a voyage of discovery proves fulfilling for both creator and consumer.
In other ways For Posterity isn't too dissimilar to Coconut by the Archie Bronson Outfit, another band who seem to have re-evaluated themselves and discovered their vocation (and niche) in the process this year. Opener 'Johnny Ventura' sets the tone for the rest of the album, the brutal collision of drums and guitars somehow pieced together by Dan Workman's echo-drenched vocals. At times reminiscent of early Eighties post-punk bands like Scars or Zounds, at others industrial hybrids such as Red Lorry Yellow Lorry or The Three Johns, For Posterity has an urgency about it way beyond any previously garnered expectations.
Delve even further into its minefield and there's the sombre 'Back To Benign', Workman's trippy vocals forming an unholy allegiance with Brett Paulin's detuned surf guitar. 'Insignificant Other' meanwhile, all raucous screams and punk flavoured chops, sees For Posterity take a menacing turn that only briefly subsides via the title track's C86-style jangle. Even old school punk legends UK Subs appear to have been an influence on 'Summer Camp', John Sullivan's driving bassline sounding uncannily like Charlie Harper and co's 'Warhead'.
At this point, only halfway through the record, one wonders what Ten Kens have in their locker to throw next. The haunting seven-minute 'Style Wars' sounds like Nick Cave recording himself in the midst of a nervous breakdown, while Grassmaster's caustic thrash delivers similarly on all levels, despite clocking in at five minutes less. Even at For Posterity's bitter end, Ten Kens' relentless energy shows no sign of subsiding. The alluring glissando loop of 'Can't Not Be Dark' proves enticing, almost mirroring Pale Saints' 'Little Hammer' from two decades previous, before an almighty drum crescendo takes the song to a whole new level at its climax.
An audacious triumph in the face of adversity that leaves no clue whatsoever where album number three will take them. File under ???...
8Dom Gourlay's Score