New Music: Death Knelly – “Ruff Demoz”

We are a part of a rhythm nation.”

It’s no great secret that lo-fi is becoming at the end of the decade what dance-punk revivalism was in the early 00’s: it’s ubiquitous, inescapable, and a seemingly free ride to the hyperbole-studded avenues of critical fawnery. No Age’s 2008 snooze parade Nouns, in particular, demonstrated how easily substance can take a backseat to style and still manage to hold the feelers of the blogosphere in an irrepressible  vice grip.

That being said, Ruff Demoz — the first collection proper from SiA-approved, one-man powerhouse Death Knelly — is not that kind of record. On one level, these songs are the “rough demos” they claim to be; still, there’s a sort of rag-tag cohesiveness here that keeps the tracks from feeling less like a haphazard throw-some-shit-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks effort, and more like a collection that — while it may not favor the sort of narrative strategy of A leading to B, then B to C and so on — is irrevocably indebted to the tightly focused vision of its maker.

Considering the tongue-in-cheek didacticism of “White Tigers,” or the lyrical intimacy of “Ladies of the Lake,” Ruff Demoz is a refreshing example of an artist doing something for his medium, rather than following the example of the slew of bratty lo-fi bloghounds whose recording quality is their only discernible claim to relevance. More than charm, which this collection has in strides, it’s got soul.

DK’s Chase Jackson has an impressive knack for mutedly discussing big-top human complications in a surprisingly small amount of room: from the trifecta of love, lust and sexuality  (“Child O’ God”) to the power of narrative and storytelling (“Don’t Shoot Out the Lights”), Ruff Demoz does more than display a remarkably effecient economy of language — it reminds us why we listen to music in the first place.

[Download the album here.]

[Read Silence in Architecture’s interview with Chase Jackson.]



6 responses to “New Music: Death Knelly – “Ruff Demoz”

  1. DJ Jezy-Jezz, I love you so much, I wanna take you out behind the middle school and get you pregnant!!

  2. i downloaded the album yesterday and although ive heard all the songs before, ive never had them all there to listen to in one sitting all right in a row. im so happy to hear something come from someone that is outside of what most people think about on a day to day basis and definetly outside of any sort of genre, as jezy said, there is nothing more refreshing than being able to talk about someones art rather than their sound. chase your music is fuckin bad. i hope to god you are performing at happyland.

    • silenceinarchitecture

      I know that Chase is our friend, and thus that creates a bit of critical closeness, but I am not a bullshitter. I listen to Death Knelly because I love it. One of my biggest hates in regards to a lot of mid-level popular pitchforked bands of the past decade has been that I usually JUST hear the influences and am always like: “I already own BETTER albums that sound just like this. Why should I give a fuck?” And while I can hear some influences in Chases’ songs, they are reconfigured in such a unique way that I immediately forget about said influences, and I am sucked into the belly of the song. And most of the influences that I DO hear are influences that most male singers wouldn’t have the ballz to attempt to cop. Which is fucking awesome. I’d take the honest artistry of Chase Jackson, Joe Rushmore, Jezy Gray, Aaron Sumpter, and Dave Dickinson over just about any shit at the top of the Hype Machine. Lucky for the Happyland Festival! (Plus, Nick and I are going to attempt to rock your asses with our drunken DJin’). Shit ballz!

  3. chris. you really shouldnt drink before you dj, you will be impaired. most of the festival promoters i know (and i know festival promoters like i know dead hookers) would be slightly more professional….atleast more professional than a dead hooker…..i guess i should have never hoped for as much. im in town tomorow, friday, the 1st, see you then.

  4. Keep up these discussions. They’re kinda given’ me madd hot pantz!! For seriously!!!!

  5. chase jackson.. he’s the man.

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