Song Roulette: Ken Cornell’s Random Tracks

Jessica Cassyle Carr
4 min read
Share ::
Ken Cornell is an audio tech who’s been running sound for bands famous and unknown for more than 16 years. He’s also a musician who plays in multiple acts—Tripping Dogs, Diverje, Cranial Smash Device—along with noise/improvisation projects Alchemical Burn, The Handmaidens and Death Convention Singers. See Cornell perform with The Handmaidens and Alchemical Burn on Saturday, March 17, at Synchro Studios (512-B Yale SE). The all-ages show is $5 and begins at 9 p.m. Basement Babies, Grenadrian and Cinik also play. Peer into this omnipotent local music purveyor’s aural library via the random tracks below.

Song Roulette

1) "Sorrow" • Synapscape • Raw

“The brutal side of electronic dance music. This track happens to offer something akin to true industrial music or even noise—not an uncommon departure for this project, however. Dense and almost unnerving, a series of vibrational tones, blips and scraping metallic washes makes a visceral soundscape. It complements the powerfully anguished screams to create a minimal delight of catharsis. File under Fist!”

Song Roulette

2) "Surge and Run" • Attrition • In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts

“A song from back in the early ’80s that has kin in groups like Cabaret Voltaire and early Psychic TV. The lo-fi tribal drum machine and ever-present guitar droning, e-bow style, creates an ethereal tapestry that perfectly suits the sultry male and female vocal exchange. There is a delightful hint of Middle Eastern influence in the music’s melody that one might find more commonly in prog or psychedelic rock.”

Song Roulette

3) "The Root of Our Nature" • 400 Blows • Black Rainbow

“I came to know and enjoy this band because I did sound for them a handful of years ago (at a bar I was proud to be the sound guy at for 11 years)! This post-punk/no-wave trio could easily be a product of Steve Albini’s wet dreams. Raw and minimal, there is a touch of almost violent energy with a groove that is relentless. The track and band inspire the kind of show that makes one want to throw themselves around in a mass of sweat and middle fingers. All this from one guitarist, one drummer and one singer. Awesome!”

Song Roulette

4) "City of Refuge" • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds • Tender Prey

“This band is simply outstanding in my book. It is no surprise with a singer that cut his teeth with the Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party. It does not hurt to have Blixa Bargeld, of the infamous and historical Einstürzende Neubauten, in this group, too! This is a gorgeously understated piece of apocalyptic storytelling that becomes near anthemic in its urgency. The throbbing, aggressive bass is set off nicely by the distant harmonica and gyrating, not-so-distorted guitar. This track happens to be inspired by a song of the same name from Blind Willie Johnson, but blues was rarely ever so menacing. On a side note, do yourselves a favor and web search the books Nick Cave authored!”

Song Roulette

5) "Mental Distortion" • Front Line Assembly • Caustic Grip

“This just happens to come from my all-time favorite album from these guys! Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb have been creating amazing electronic industrial, industrial dance or electronic body music, as it is sometimes referred to, since the early ’80s. In fact, Mr. Leeb was an original member of the seminal band Skinny Puppy in its earliest incarnation. Pulsating and always maintaining high energy, the fully synthesized instrumentation comes across like an unerring militant machine. Constant bass arpeggiator and driving drum module make for a near brutal dance floor treat, even in 2012. The aggro, slightly distorted vocals can still be understood lyrically, which I very much appreciate. Released on Wax Trax, the label that made the aforementioned genres popular in the U.S., this is early terror tech at its finest.”

1 2 3 316