KARL "RASCAL" K - ROUGH TONES FROM THE BACKROAD
Released December 2nd 2022 on Wolverine Records Reviewed on 23rd January by Kate Buy the album here: https://www.sonicrendezvous.com/.../rough-tones.../561059
All instruments by Karl ‘Rascal’K
What do you get when you mix Frantic Flintstones, Out Of Luck and a lot of pandemic-inspired motivation? This album! One of the greatest slap bass players out there, Karl ‘Rascal’ K, was handed some lemons when Covid forced him to stay home and Out Of Luck went on hiatus in 2019, and he very much chose to make gritty, American-style lemonade from them. By teaching himself how to play every instrument on the album, he took ownership of his own sound and produced a very intense, atmospheric record. I think he must have been playing The Meteors on repeat in his home studio because their influence is all over this echoing, brutal and beautiful record. Expect the slap bass to be king and things to get stormy when you take a listen to this very short album, clocking in at less than thirty minutes.
Tombstone- if you’re expecting an Out of Luck album from Karl, prepare to be surprised. His band’s twitching, Mad Sin energy is replaced with spooky, cinematic soundscapes on this first instrumental track. Tumbleweed roll across the path powered by phenomenal slap bass, and solo it’s very clear that you don’t play bass for the Frantic Flintstones if you’re an amateur. I’m loving the heart monitor outro too.
Viper’s Victim - With maximum slap bass and a voice from a wood chipper, Karl is in his stride on this number. His voice might be polarising (think if Sparky had bronchitis and duetted with Koefte deVille) but I love it; it adds a layer of punk and darkness to the whole event. There’s even a Wilhelm Scream in the background of this choppy number about the dangers of snakes.
Highspeed Rollercoaster - Throbbing drums and post-punk guitar lead us into a menacing, fast paced number about….well, a fast rollercoaster, before dropping in some country guitar lines and evil laughter.
Run- We’ve got a big echoing number with Guitar Slingers vibes that belongs on a movie soundtrack about Bonnie and Clyde. Karl knows how to make a slap bass strong and bold, and adding sneering hillbilly vocals and strung out country echoes on top is genius.
The 9 Pound Hammer - a similar mood to Run but things are now more tense, more drunk and more creepy. The guitar takes centre stage and drags us off in a hearse with a flourish.
Sunrise at the Foggy River - the title sounds so nice and happy, doesn’t it? Fortunately there’s no genre breaks, and we get a zombie Johnny Cash hellscape instrumental with light, jumping, finger-picking. Someone mutated all the inmates of Folsom Prison, taught them dark country and let them loose. It’s a reworked Out Of Luck song and it’s great to see where the original could have gone.
I Cruise My Blues Away - surfy blues rhythms give us a slight break on this big, stompy track. It’s the closest Karl is going to get to mainstream on this record and the bluesy breakdown is superb.
Dead Sled (chainsaw mix) - more midnight surf on this number about your car breaking down on the autobahn out of hell. I can’t decide if I like Karl better when he’s being sludgy or melodic because he does both so very well.
Wild at Heart - it’s a cover of the Celtic Bones song, but by stepping back from their tendency to go full fury and giving full attention to the art of the slap bass Karl has made it his own. The whisper and enjoyment on the chorus is fabulous, as are the sliding guitar chimes.
Showdown - finishing on a high, this is very much an album of two halves. Six of the tracks were pulled from his last EP, after all, so finishing on a melodic instrumental outro where he goes full pelt into everything is brilliant. For his next solo project, I need him to make an outlaw road movie starring himself with this as the chase sequence.
This is a dark and different album that goes in a new direction from Karl Rascal K’s previous body of work. If you like your country very dark and your mental pictures full of lurid black and white intensity, this is the record for you. Ingenious and innovative in the field of solo psycho at every turn.