You think you got some sort of
Gift from God
You really think you’re winning
but you’re six feet under us all
Berlin-based band Errorr, helmed by the immensely talented multi-instrumentalist Leonard Kaage (The Underground Youth), has finally unleashed their debut album, Self Destruct, a record that showcases a raw energy and chaotic sound derived from Kaage’s punk ethos. (Kaage has also collaborated with notable acts such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Kristof Hahn (SWANS), Tess Parks, and The Blue Angel Lounge.)
The album represents a journey of personal growth and self-reflection, translated into a relentless aural assault via Kaage’s musical prowess and the band’s formidable presence. The band’s signature sound lacks any particular structure, but is still strongly bolstered by the power of loud guitars, punchy fuzz bass, and catchy drum beats merged to form a wall of sound that Kaage’s vocals slice through, making screaming “noise” sound like a pop record.
Lyrically, Kaage often reflects on life in modern western society, with a disbelief in authority. The songs have an immense emotional depth and vulnerability to them with subjects like frustration with one’s surroundings and injustices and a lust and love for life.
“Unfortunately, I have witnessed many people close to me falling deep in self-destructive behaviors, like drug abuse or mental issues.” says Kaage. “Some of the darker parts of this record are about that, but all in all, I don’t think it’s only a dark record. I had a lot of fun writing and recording it, and expressing those negative feelings with sounds and lyrics can be very healing – a way to turn negativity into something positive. There is definitely a restless frustration in me that is channeled through these songs.”
The album opens with “Innocent,” a track that examines the realm of mind control from various external sources. Who is ultimately responsible for these actions, and who is innocent? The commander of the soldier? The hallucinations of the mad? The puppetry of the cult leader? This track is followed by the staticky industrial sound of “SIXXX”, bringing to mind Sonic Youth and Pixies, challenging megalomaniacs and authority’s hold on the masses.
“Just Another” is a tired look at capitalism, advertising, and the cult of new leading to our destruction. The imagery in “Deep Blue” revolves around environmental pollution and its effect on the individual as well as the collective. “Paranoia,” which channels 90s alternative grunge, evokes imagery of institutions and the terror of a mental breakdown. Likewise, the raucous “8 Hours 5 Days” lays waste to the capitalistic model of the workday and how it contributes to the madness of the collective, as dreams and hopes are supplanted by the wealthy. “Heroine” is a play on words for an escape through a coping mechanism.
“Not Even Bored” floats in a sea of apathy and nihilism. Something is simplistic yet direct in its political message – that no one knows anything, they’re spitting out nonsense for the sake of being on the air – but this ignorance, manipulation of the masses, and the gigantic rumour mill is dangerous. “Makeshift Dreams” continues the theme of nihilism. “With Love From The Grave” imagines oneself on the other side of the veil, looking at humanity from a hole in the ground. “I Don’t Feel Like Talking” closes the album with a bitter resignation to one’s bleak fate.
Self Destruct was recorded and mixed in Kaage’s own basement studio. “When I started to write this album, our first album, it naturally started where I started…on an acoustic guitar in my bedroom…When I wrote this album I had a revival of a lot of music that has been with me my whole adult life. Stuff from the early 90’s and some punk stuff that I haven’t revisited in a long time.”
More mixing was done in Gothenburg’s Svenska Grammofonstudion by Frederic Kevorkian (The White Stripes, Iggy Pop). Despite the abundance of seasoned industry veterans involved in making ERRORR’s debut album, the band wanted to maintain their signature down-and-dirty raw grittiness and not rely too heavily on, as Leonard put it: “too many effects or production tricks.”
At times this approach became perhaps even too raw: “The guitar feedback was screaming so loud that it made me laugh,” Kaage jokes. “It was just so fucked up. In the end, I decided to polish it off a bit to make it a bit more listener-friendly.”
Self Destruct is available via Anomic Records.
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