Future Death discuss dissonance and curate a mixtape

Blake Gillespie

Future Death

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Austin's Future Death were quick to coalesce, forming as a two-piece of Alto Jenkins and Bill Kenny in 2012, recording an EP by 2013, and adding vocalist Angie Kang and bassist Jeremy Humphries before taking to John Congleton's storied Texas studio to record Special Victim with Alex Bhore of This Will Destroy You. With everything happening all of the time, Future Death have the right to describe themselves as four individual tastes finding a bisecting core to define their sound.

These individual tastes are illustrated in Future Death's specially curated mixtape for Impose, which they've titled Influential Dissonance. Collecting variations on dissonance via Neu!, B L A C K I E, Zorch and Boredoms, Future Death's conceptual mixtape spans a global and local representation as well as a expansive definition of the term. With many unexpected selections throughout Influential Dissonance, the mixtape explores B L A C K I E's less abrasive side to jarring offerings by Acme and Le Shok that pummel the senses.

Stream Influential Dissonance below and read on for an interview with Future Death's Bill Kenny and Angie Kang.

The theme for this playlist is “influential dissonance” when you say influential does this pertain to a principle inherent in Future Death or was it more in regards to a mindset going into recording the album?

Bill Kenny: In regards to “influential”, I think I'm drawn to anything thats simply disorienting. In my opinion personally, it's something inherent in the band, but there was no other mindset into going into the studio other than capturing what we do and keeping it organic. I know we all love the bands on this playlist, but don't' really sound like any of em.

Angie Kang: We rely heavily on impulsions to drive our creative process, which I feel represents a lot of the songs we chose. A big part of our sound is four people bringing in all of their influences into a unified concept since we each write our own parts. There will inevitably be a cacophony of ideas when your creativity is coming from a wildly different place than your collaborator’s.

What was the first band to really get you thinking about dissonance and how to properly utilize it? Did any of the bands on this mix play that role?

BK: Yikes. I can't remember that far back. But I know the first thing that I'd heard that had dissonance AND was beautiful (to me anyway) was Screeching Weasels BOOGADABOOGADABOOGADA! But that was way before I learned how to play myself. Also it was one of my only tapes and I walked around a lot. But the Weasel is buried in my brain, so its hard to say.

AK: A lot of my tracks in this mix are synth or electro punk. I've always considered that particular genre to bind the rhetorical grounds of music and visual art. It's where I meet in the middle, where disco doesn't suck and rock n' roll loses its raging testosterone. They're not on the playlist, but the band that I've admired since I was a teen is Adult. from Detroit. They combined raw punk sensibilities with electronic dance music. Their music represents a rather unique person, one who acknowledges having human emotions, is a borderline masochist and longs to be robotic. Dissonance in music often encompasses some degree of discomfort or stress, but to whom is subjective. I think dissonance can often stem from the desire to satisfy an impulse in order to create tension and break monotony. It is a source of motivation, the thrill of the surprise. But even that can appear pretty one-dimensional. There has to be a certain amount of order and predictability to properly break a rule. Society can create them for you or you can set those standards yourself.

If you were to go track by track, would you be so kind to break down the dissonance and how it was influential?

Acme, “Blind” – BK: The Full Metal Jacket sample with the music starting behind it will always be one of the most intense intros ever to me. And the dissonance… the vocals. It's blood curdling.

B L A C K I E, “Track 5” – BK: This is by far one of his calmer tracks, but there is an incredibly dissonant tone and vibe to it. Like a beautiful chainsaw in a 70's horror movie. I would say that influenced me. I'm a Houston native. I've always been influenced and inspired by B L A C K I E.

Beau Wanzer, “F.U. Klaxon” – AK: This is a buddy of mine from Chicago, he uses all analog synthesizers and drum machines to make this wonderfully eerie electronic music. I love how his vocals sound as if a ghost is speaking to you inside of a sunken ship. The high-pitched phone-off-the-hook melody makes you feel like you're teetering on the edge of a skyscraper.

Flowers, “After Dark” – AK: I like that this song has a lot of restraint—there are moments when you think her vocals are going to start screeching or wailing but she maintains a straight, rhythmic tone and nervously raps over the drums, almost out of desperation to finish her words until she polishes the song off with some chill delay on her vocals saying the words 70's rock musicians all loathed: “disco”. It's the straightforward yet heavy bass, the wild bluesy guitar work and the all-toms drum beat that makes my toe tap like a pleasured crackhead.

Zorch, “We All Die Young” – BK: The sound that these two accomplish is absolutely astounding. It's huge. Might not be the most dissonant track, but it's full, harmonious, beautiful, and still has this grit to it. ZZZOOORRRCCCHH!!!

Le Shok, “Do The Dramatic” – AK: I had such a boner for this band when I was a teen. Jarring, silly, nihilist phrases over a sick drum beat always made me lose my inhibitions. The drummer went on to play synth in the The Locust. That's a good fucking band too.

Neu!, “Fur Immer” – BK: The detuned whale like guitars along with the pretty melodic picking ones, the subtle blue notes and the steady beat. It's hypnotic. Sometimes when you first hear something, theres a part that you think “oh, why'd they do that?!” A wrong note, a late hit, whatever. Eventually those little subtleties become not only a part of the song, but the part you're waiting for. It's a subtle contrast, but makes this track what it is.

Delta 5, “Mind Your Own Business” – AK: Delta 5 probably influenced most of the bands on this list. The layered, off-kilter vocals are quite inventive and that funky bass line is ill. I assumed the song was written to taunt someone who was constantly looking for a freebie but it could also be interpreted as the singer using sarcasm to point out the greed of others. It might also be about the US habitually interfering with other country's issues. They were surely ahead of their time.

Boredoms, “Hard Trance Away” – BK: This one….is a 30 minute punk jam that starts with a distorted battle cry and just pummels nonstop. There's a dissonance in the rhythms, as there's probably a few drummers playing, but it's still tight. Just raw. A Juggernaut.

Just for fun/curious, was there ever a time when you didn't know how to correctly pronounce Neu!?

BK: I was told about Neu! before I read about Neu! So I lucked out there.

Did you bring any of these songs to your sessions Alex Bhore as examples of the dissonance you wanted to achieve with your record? Or did you have any general/memorable discussions with him regarding dissonance?

BK: No, not these particularly. I honestly can't remember what we showed him, but I'm sure we sent something, but more in regards to drum sound. Either way, once we got there, all that went out the window. We played the room. He was incredibly insightful when it came to getting tones and sounds with the gear we weren't all that familiar with. But there were a lot of descriptives thrown around, but nothing specific.

Future Death's Special Victim is out May 27 on Bloodmoss.

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