by Ten Kens on FatCat Records
FatCat Records are proud to present ‘For Posterity’, the second album from Toronto four-piece Ten Kens. As the title suggests, this release sees them looking to the future, and the band have pursued a distinct artistic vision that takes inspiration from a range of disparate genres and movements, from the meditative experimentation of Psychedelia to the immediacy of Hardcore, steering them towards a bold new sound that is truly unique.
The product of this vision is the result of an intense recording period. The band aimed to achieve a specific balance of sound to make recordings that were dynamic and powerful yet simultaneously raw and organic. Knowing that they would need a ‘healthy amount’ of studio time to achieve this, the band decamped to new guitarist and sound engineer Brett Paulin’s studio in Toronto. The amount of time they spent here quickly became unhealthy, as the band, completed by Dan Workman (Vocals), Ryan Roantree (Drums) and new member John Sullivan (Bass), lived and slept in the studio, barely aware of an outside world and seeing very little sunlight. However, whilst each member may have come out of the studio temporarily physically weaker, the band returns to the listener collectively stronger in both their conviction and delivery. Fittingly, the reclusive nature of the recording process has informed an album that is darker than the self-titled debut and incredibly focused; it sounds like an album that could only be made by four musicians with a shared artistic vision, devoid of any outside influence.
Whilst ‘For Posterity’ is a very different beast to the self-titled album, many of the elements that yielded such a critically well received debut still survive and are enhanced. Ten Kens continue to be an idiosyncratic band that find delight in toying with the listeners expectations, often at multiple points within a single song. ‘Johnny Ventura’, the first track from the new album is a prime example, introducing a Roky Erickson-like howl from Dan Workman over the top of a crushing guitar riff, before stopping abruptly for a brief ethereal mid-song interlude, perfectly demonstrating the band’s ability to juxtapose quiet introspection with unabashed belligerence.
Indeed, it is the range of contrasts which make ‘For Posterity’ such an intriguing listen. Heavenly vocals appear hauntingly over dark sludgy guitars which then themselves provide a platform for a surprisingly spiky post-punk riff, or the prelude to a screaming deluge of noise. Still, whilst the band sought simply to capture the spirit unique to each song, they have maintained the ability to record an album with a sonic narrative, through the widescreen sense of drama that characterised their self-titled debut. However, whilst the musical intent of that was to make a tangible body of work, ‘For Posterity’ feels more like a spirit, haunting the listener with a brooding dread that runs throughout the album and binds its contrasting musical elements together.