Review: Knekelput “Teloorgang”

Review: Knekelput “Teloorgang”

- in Reviews

Happy belated New Year, Antichrist faithful, and happy 20th anniversary so far. After fighting back those last few hangers-on from the past year and shaking off the holiday hangover, I’ve found some time to reset, re-orient, and start the reviews back up. I can only hope that everyone out has had an opportunity to do the same, and big props and salutes to the resolute still dealing with last year’s dreck.

We can’t completely hoist off 2022 just yet, because there are still some artists and albums that deserve some time in the spotlight. No time to eulogize auld lang syne, with all respect due to Robbie Burns. We need to rewind a bit, to October 2022. If you need some context, think of being unseasonably warm with barely a hint of autumn. If you’re anything like me, a lot of your time was spent scuttling between Misfits bootlegs and the Hellraiser reboot. In retrospect, that should’ve also included Teloorgang, the self-released debut album by Knekelput. The multi-instrumentalist, monoglyphic pairing of M. and K. from southern Holland present Teloorgang as the culmination of two decades of writing and performing together; an almost retrospective of the group’s nascent phase which was shelved and hid away until a new phase could begin.

The eleven tracks comprising Teloorgang were recorded in 2007 but held back from release until last October. Assuming today’s Knekelput is the same as the prior incarnation, M. and K. engage in a frenetic amalgam of grindy, deathy black metal that shrieks from the deepest recesses of the experimental realm. Both members largely share instrumental duties, which is impressive given how seamless and focused the erratic guitar and percussion is from song to song. While segments and lines feel “catchy” at times, Knekelput free associates their way to 45 minutes of hellish jazz that eschews singles or playlists. Teloorgang feels like an art piece, best taken wholistically while noting and appreciating distinct segments contributing to the greater work.

As the leading edge of this sword cuts away at standard musical conventions, the opposite edge also cuts at familiarity and the ability to single any one song out above the others. You can point to a couple songs that don’t fit, like “Vormen” with its budget art school film vibe. But listening only to “Utiope” before turning your player off or skipping the penultimate “Teloorgang” feels unnecessary and makes no sense. Are you going to point at a Mondrian and say that one of like 4 yellow blocks is your favorite instead of the other three? That the big red block can go to hell? I’m sure someone has done exactly that, and that’s probably someone you should avoid.

The comparison is apt because Knekelput operates in that same artistic realm, taking umbrage with the norm and developing conventional structures only to run them into the ground through repetition and coming up for air only after utter disintegration. The base remnants are taken from this blackened centrifuge and smeared and dripped à la Jackson Pollock until M. and K.’s whims seem to be sated. The product won’t necessarily be familiar, but the process is evident and intentional.

As avant garde as some of these songs are, Knekelput stops just short of Dada. There’s no feeling of disdain for anyone peeking through the cracks in the wall, but the weirdness here is its own self-selection method. There won’t be any convincing of a potential audience: you either click with it or you don’t. And even those that do click might not stay firmly ensconced. Some tracks just seem odd and off-putting for their own sake, and the end of the album feels lighter on the gas than the beginning. Even M. and K. feel like they are getting tired by the last few songs. “Een Schemerig Pad” feels much more grounded, as much as a black/death/grind confluence can be, than “Dualiteit” did at first listen. Entropy on a human scale may have its limits, and if surprise and quizzical spectacle are the draws then Teloorgang may not hold up for more than a few listens. As a display of composition and musicianship, however, there is plenty of meat on the bone here. Even if the entire album doesn’t stick the landing at every point, there’s value here.

I don’t think it can be stated enough how commendable it is for Knekelput to have finally let these songs out into the wild. Fifteen years is a long time with a lot of second guessing and a lot of doubt about your creation. More than anything, it’s just a lot of inertia to overcome. I certainly don’t have any conviction in my 15-year-old recordings, even if they’re half as good as what M. and K. have here (it’s not even close). So maybe take that as some homework for the week: root through your old shit, maybe say “the hell with it” and just put it out. More art isn’t a bad thing, and maybe we’ll all get lucky and end up with something of the caliber of Teloorgang. I assure you; it’s probably not as embarrassing as some of the GarageBand files I’ve got stashed somewhere.

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