Latest studio effort from the Stuttgart post-punk trio Karies, “Es geht sich aus” is one of the best albums to emerge from the genre in the recent years.
If punk is the sound of youth rebellion, post-punk is what it sounds like when the youth grows up to discover everything’s not as black and white as they thought it was. Sometimes you can’t say who the bad guy (or girl) is, because there is simply no explanation for the mess you’re in – it’s just life. This mess is often a love gone awry, a relationship that has been drained of positive feelings, leaving only bitter memories of better times.
Why am I telling you this? Being able to grasp and cope with such a situation might be commonplace, but it is nevertheless often a difficult task. Thankfully, the German post-punk trio Karies have released their second album “Es geht sich aus” in November, an album which translates into music feelings that can rarely be expressed through words.
Karies is guitarist Benjamin Schröter, bassist Max Nosek and drummer Philipp Knoth. They hail from Stuttgart, a city which in recent years has become known on a national scale for its sprawling punk scene. With “Es geht sich aus”, the trio has made one of that scene’s best albums in the recent years, resembling Cloud Nothings’ “Attack on Memory” in the sheer force and despair.
As a friend’s sticker on the back of Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” (an album not so much about lack of communication and a long, hard break-up but deeply marked by it) said: “This is not a happy album.”
So why should you listen to Karies, then, if not to help you cope with your own personal mess? It perfectly emulates in sound the history it wants to tell.
Knoth’s drumming can best be described as stoic. The guitars deny you any relief from the relentless pace, instead creating an atmosphere of extreme frustration. Like the situations the songs describe, the guitars deal in half-tones. At the end of the album, an acoustic guitar takes the place of the distorted one, but even then it does not make the music mellow so much as disillusioned.
In parallel, Schröter delivers short poems that suggest crisis, emptiness, silence. The sometimes spoken, sometimes sung lyrics are full of ambiguous expressions and paradoxes, right up to the album title, which I can’t explain in English without losing the ambiguity. But this is exactly what makes Karies’ music so interesting: they don’t explain. Now grow up!