January 22, 2013

Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

Review by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Photo by Roy Zipstein. Design by Bradee

Named after an unregulated outlaw city in Kowloon, Hong Kong run by the Triads during its brief, tumultuous history, Kowloon Walled City have attempted to create a record that's part architectural monument and part bandit hideout. The song structures and vast, Brutalist construction play with immense weight and scale, as well as echoing emptiness. The percussion, in particular, is colossal, evoking the image of the broken vessel on the cover and how the mighty inevitably fall. The title track is a well-wrought slab of rusting wreckage, as is "You Don't Have Cancer," which sounds sharp enough to give you tetanus.

The musical tone and emotional texture of the record both engage with the balance between defiance and futility, in terms of construction. No matter how beautifully designed or massive a feat of engineering and architecture may be, in the end it will fall victim to decay, stress fractures and abandonment. This sense of frustration and loss, especially as it relates to human creativity, defines the music, as well as the imagery of Container Ships. A tribute to industrial archaeology and failed wonders of engineering, Container Ships is a different type of dystopia.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. Based on the review, I was expecting this to sound more like Batillus or Whitehorse; that the production would be suffocated by distortion and volume. Thankfully, this isn't the case. A solid release.

    1. You're saying that as if distortion and volume is a bad thing? :) But yeah, a solid release.

  2. One of my absolute favorites of 2012. HIGHLY recommended.