Distributor/Label: Golden Antenna Records (EU), Midium Records (USA)
Buy Album: http://kerretta.bandcamp.com/album/pirohia
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/kerretta/timeline
Hamish Walker – guitar
Will Waters – drums
Dave Holmes – producer/misc instrumentalist
1. Ossein Trail
2. The Roar
4. His Streets of Honey, Her Mouth of Gold
5. Iron Hail
6. Kawea Tatou Ki Nga Hiwi
7. Sister, Come Home
8. The Last Rivers
In these days of instant gratification in pretty much every facet of our lives, it’s fair to say that releasing instrumental music can be a risk. Will people latch on to, and appreciate, music with no stirring lyrics, no rousing choruses?
One band that has been quietly proving the doubters wrong for almost a decade is New Zealand’s Kerretta. Since forming in 2006, the experimental rock trio – made up of Avotor’s Hamish Walker, drummer Will Waters of Meterman and producer Dave Holmes – have been really rather prolific in their output, releasing two full-length albums and a plethora of singles, B-sides, rarities and EP’s. Their third album ‘Pirohia’ was released in September of this year on Midium Records/Golden Antenna.
Of course you may dismiss all of this as ‘easy’ – it must be simple to create music with no lyrics, right – but is it? It’s pretty obvious that this type of music would have to work harder to ensnare people’s attention, and even harder again to keep it.
As if in response to this challenge, Kerretta have created an album that is diverse, richly layered and atmospheric. It is also, gratifyingly, heavy as hell in places, with a combined drum and bass sound that is pummelling and strong, as well as some seriously impressive guitar work. Opening track ‘Ossein Trail’, with its handclap intro and gorgeous, almost symphonic touches, sets the scene for the album nicely. Starting off slow and brooding, it gathers momentum and heaviness as it goes along, before fading away dreamily to the outro.
The band ably demonstrate their chops throughout the eight songs here, from the nifty fretwork in the aforementioned opening track to the deep, throaty bass work in ‘Warnlands’, to the way they really put drummer Waters through his paces in standout track ‘Iron Hail’.
Every song is a story within itself, clearly created to be a complete entity – it never feels like lyrics were meant to be added. Their inspirations and influences shine through equally clearly: a bit of indie rock (the ‘U2 on steroids’ jangle of ‘The Roar’, and the jaunty, almost militaristic ‘Sister, Come Home’), a bit of heavy rock (‘Iron Hail’ and ‘Kawea Tatou Ki Nga Hiwi’, with its maori vocal track), and a bit of prog (most clearly evidenced in the sci-fi boops and beeps breakdown of ‘Iron Hail’).
And then, just when you think you’ve got Kerretta sussed – final track ‘The Last River’ creeps up to surprise you. A clatter of drums…ominous bass…synths…it’s unlike anything else on the album. It has an olde worlde, almost paganistic feel to it. Less a song, more a soundtrack, it would in fact fit perfectly in to a TV show about Vikings or the like. One can almost picture Ragnar and his kin gathered around to watch some spectacle – a ritual sacrifice perhaps, or an earl doling out his version of justice. It is a suitably dramatic and atmospheric ending to an album awash with drama and atmosphere.
This is definitely not the album (or indeed, band) for people who want what they want and they want it now. It will take a few listens, with no distractions, to really soak it in and appreciate it. That said, Kerretta have cleverly crafted a set of songs that never feel incomplete or lacking in something simply because they have no vocalist. Technically proficient, beautifully produced and perfect for total aural immersion, ‘Pirohia’ is a lush, quirky and interesting album. Not bad for ‘just’ an instrumental band, eh?
Review by Melanie Brehaut