❉ Peter Kernel’s aggressive, enticing, fourth album explores the vastness of the dark, writes Eoghan Lyng.
“In this album we took off the darkest and most mysterious part of our persons and transformed it into songs. We don’t have instructions to not make mistakes or not hurt people around us or to love in the most proper manner”.
This is a startling opening statement from the post-punk band, but it’s a justifiable one; Janovian Primal Scream pain is heard throughout, the band singing about the different shades of light and life. Comprising a graphic designer Aris Bassetti (Swiss) and filmmaker Barbara Lehnhoff (Canadian), there is something distinctly semiotic at play here. This is a primal, minimal sound; drums rumbling through the proceedings, seminal beats playing through the music; they may be the Swiss equivalent to The XX.
Strong records that they were, Peter Kernel’s first two albums didn’t ignite the same seismic spark that their gigs (particularly their 2014 appearance at Le Trabendo) matched. The Size of The Night rectifies this; The Fatigue of The Passing Night is so hypnotic, it would work either as the closer of a Saturday night gig or as the laconic album ender it inhabits on the album (it sounds like an outtake from Lou Reed’s Berlin – that’s the quality of the track!).
Lehnoff and Bassetti share lead vocals, their voices bounce well off one another on Pretty Perfect, a stone cold indie classic, bass strummed and guitar gizios on display, we could hear this as a fitting segue-way between The White Stripes and Them Crooked Vultures at the indie discos. Drift To Death is a neo-indie monster, backwards loops and hoots playfully put; Ian Brown would be impressed. Terrible Luck has pleasant shades of McCartney resonances, while Men Of The Women sounds like a Stooges track for the fourth wave movement. There’s a sense of differing shades of music, Lehnoff telling Louder Than War “Aris is from Ligando the Italian part so he has a very strong Italian culture. He’s very melodic, he’s very romantic, I’m more noisy and destructive. When we start writing the songs, usually they are much nicer. Sometimes I destroy them. But we compensate each other well”.
Meanwhile, The Revenge of Teeth goes into bluesier terrains, Lenhoff finding a nice balance between the aggressive and enticing, Bassetti’s guitar playing particularly seductive. The Shape of Your Face In Space is especially tribal, the drums more than just the backdrop of the song, at points, they are the song on an ethereal change of tone, texture and genre (it’s only shades away from prog, in all the best ways). Orchestra-focused The Secret of Happiness is a gargantuan coast of strings, horns and drums, Bassetti’s “we’re never gonna know when fortune comes our way” affected further by the underlying dissonance of strings. The album’s biggest sounding track, it’s also the album’s best.
Much like the album’s title, this is a record that explores the vastness of the dark, treasured by guitar hooks, and empowered vocals. Post-punk rock is in safe hands.
❉ Peter Kernel – ‘The Size Of The Night’ is released by On The Camper Records, 9 March 2018 – click here to order from Bandcamp on vinyl, CD or download.
❉ Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life.