Defeated –  Kudzu (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Kudzu - Defeated (cover)I think the word we are looking for here is intense. Right from the off, as the opening salvo of Some Cop blasts its way into the listener’s consciousness, the album comes on like some sort of New York No Wave nightmare blended with PIL’s darkest and most gritty sonic secrets. I’d hate to be that guy, the one who says, “they don’t make music like this anymore” well, now I don’t have to be, they clearly do. Who knew?

Defeated is a collection of short, sharp shocks, the musical equivalent of being roughed up in a back alley, an onslaught of industrial repetition, crashing percussion, sonic scar tissue and barked, stripped back vocals and I’m not even saying that as if it is a bad thing. It isn’t, the brutality of the record is great and somehow feels creatively from a more innocent time whilst being musically more experienced and world weary.

Obvious nods are given to those head days when punks, having destroyed rock and pop’s status quo…and indeed Status Quo, set about building new sonic structures to take their place, creating along the way everything from the twee new pop, the frantic sound of new wave, goth isolation, strange electronica and much more. Kudzu sits at one extreme of that brave new world, a dark angular and uncompromising polarity and whilst many genres have tried to capture the same brutal nature of those dark and frightening fringes scenes none have come close until now.

Balking The Grave comes on like the punk-gothique experiments of the late seventies, more Bauhaus than Sisters, Burn Yourself is the sound of industrial synth wave having a nervous breakdown and Sleep In Disguise takes pop for a walk down some very twisted paths.

This is music built from the detritus found scattered across an industrial wasteland, all sharp edges and jagged design and driven by a relentless powerhouse of bruising beats and searing sparks. It is the white-hot groove of factory noise being rendered onto the night club floor, but not the night club that just anyone can find. This one is probably in a decaying warehouse or dead car plant miles away from civilisation and quite possibly even in some sort of parallel universe, and as the clock strikes thirteen this is the sound which hits the sky for probably the last party before the apocalypse. Now…what to wear?

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