According to Wikipedia, the worlds most reliable source of information, the country of Belgium is home to between 10 and 20 nuclear weapons. The majority of these weapons of mass destruction are simply on loan from the United States, stored and kept secure in a base in the north east of the country. However, despite it’s placid and idyllic reputation as a country of peace and tranquillity, the nation has birthed a weapon so devastating, it’s sheer magnitude is greater than the combined power of all the aforementioned nuclear devices. It’s goes by the name of Raketkanon.
Since their formation in the quaint medieval town of Ghent, the group have been praised for being arguably one of the most authentically progressive bands on the planet. Their previous efforts, respectively titled RKTKN #1 and #2, have seen the group push the definition of music to the extreme, creating art that toes the line between true progressive experimentation and disturbing noise. The group are firm believers in straying from the light of convention and familiarity, experimenting with the perpetration of music and moulding it until it takes the likeness of something alien entirely. Even with the group being crowned as being the pioneers of musical progression, the group entered a short hiatus following the release of their sophomore record to take a step back, compose themselves both mentally and physically before reconsidering their approach. Following their hiatus the group are back with their latest experimental offence; RKTKN #3.
Sticking to their ethos of never repeating themselves or others and never settling into comfortable familiarity, RKTKN #3 is their most abstract and inconceivable art to date. It’s a record that occupies a space far beyond the secure walls of music comfort, one that’s fraught with tension and surrealism. Whereas their previous records contained metallic confrontation and artistic beauty, RKTKN #3 is a far more reserved and withdrawn beast. However, it’s not one of relaxed composure and restraint, far from it. It’s unsettling, unconformable and deranged. If pop punk is the sonic equivalent of coming of age comedies and if death metal is the sonic equal of slasher films, RKTKN #3 is the sonic equivalent of an obscure arthouse body horror film. It’s like something that a dangerously depraved David Cronenberg would cook up if he turned to creating music instead of films.
The record opens with ‘Ricky’, the most conventional and coherent track to be found on this release by far. This isn’t to say it’s universally approachable however. Obtuse riffs fuse biologically with discordant electronic soundscapes that ebb and flow between massive walls of experimental sound and quiet, ominous lulls in an almost unhinged manner. It’s a facilitating and intoxicating introduction that defies genre norms yet never sounding too alienating. From here on out however, the record wouldn’t be out of place soundtracking a traumatising and life altering case of severe sleep paralysis.
‘Fons’ is something akin to an ancient forbidden ritual, with Pieter-Puals Devo’s tribalistic chanting and deranged chiptune electronics clouding and intoxicating the mind. However, once again, the band withdraw again, all before lurching back into a state of deranged mania. RKTKN #3 understands the ancient art of juxtaposition and tension. It knows to truly strike disconcert it must be utterly alien and incomparable. it knows how to create a constant aura of discomfort and how to fully maximise it’s moments of Lovecraftian horror.
Bookmarking this record are moments of quiet and reserved respite, with ‘Mélody’ sounding like something an incredibly socially isolated Radiohead would cook up and ‘Robin’ sounds equally uncomfortable with it’s unnerving minimalism. There’s a sense of dispirit to these moments of relative peace though, with such periods of unsettling peace setting the stage for the record’s truly bizarre spectacles. The suitably named ‘Hannibal’ rocks quietly back and forth, quivering with deranged energy all before snapping it’s eyes open and screaming with a sound relative to corrosive white noise and the truly perturbing experience of ‘Harry’ sounds like a chorus of retro Dr. Who baddies talking in tongues against a backdrop of dystopian retrofuturism, complete with wailing synths and ever so contrasting hedonistic gang vocals. Other parts of the record see Raketkanon romanticizing thoughts of post-rock and mathrock, but in a fashion in which a serial killer would romanticise the thought of committing mass murder with a hammer. It’s dark, it’s twisted and oh so compellingly fascinating.
For the most part, RKTKN #3 is utterly bizarre, unsettling and truly extraordinary; even by Raketkanon’s standards. However, that’s what makes it irresistibly attractive. It’s unique beauty in it’s most abstract form, a journey of depraved mania and creative innovation birthed from abandoning social and genre norms. Without a shadow of a doubt, this record is not for everyone. Even those kids you see in Camden wearing those naive “My Music Scares People” will run in horror from this alien and disturbing creature. But if you’re seeking something authentically fresh and utterly unparalleled, this deep dive into sonic insanity is for you.
RKTKN #3 is out now via Alcopop! Records