By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Oakland-based heavy-music iconoclasts Kowloon Walled City celebrate the recent release of their latest album Piecework with two shows Saturday afternoon and evening on both sides of San Francisco Bay.READ MORE: KPIX Reporters Remember Slain Security Guard Kevin Nishita; 'Just the Kindest Man'
Named after the densely populated, post-apocalyptic Hong Kong slum notorious for its high crime rate that was completely demolished in the early 1990s, Kowloon Walled City has been crafting its compelling mix of minimalist drones, brooding tension and ferociously crushing guitar riffs since forming in 2007.
Led by singer/guitarist Scott Evans (who also produces the band’s recordings) and guitarist Jon Howell, the quartet has refined a unique take on noise-rock that nods equally to feral sounds being unleashed on the Touch and Go and Amphetamine Reptile labels 30 years ago and the more subdued, measured music of experimentalists like Slint and Tortoise over the course of four albums and numerous EP and split releases.
While early efforts like their first EP Turk Street in 2008 and their proper full-length debut Gambling on the Richter Scale the following year laid out a basic template for the band’s approach, Kowloon Walled City made a quantum leap forward with the sludgy, pulverizing songs on Container Ships in 2012. The band would tour extensively, sharing stages with such boundary pushing noise-rock, punk and metal acts as YOB, Sumac, Oxbow and Sleep.
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The quartet took the better part of five years to finally finish the follow-up to it’s celebrated third album Grievances for Neurot Recordings, the imprint run by SF experimental metal heroes Neurosis, bringing on new drummer Dan Sneddon (formerly of SF metal band Early Graves). But fans should find that the wait for their latest dirge-filled opus Piecework was well worth it. Pushing their use of negative space and tension to the breaking point, Kowloon Walled City’s cathartic new effort is being hailed as the band’s finest yet.
Partnering with Bay Area show promoter Talent Moat, KWC is celebrating the album twice in one day Saturday with an afternoon record release party at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco and an evening show at the Golden Bull in Oakland. For the San Francisco show, the band is joined by rising Bay Area proto-metal outfit Psychic Hit — which released its debut EP Solutio through Seeing Red Records earlier this year — and keyboardist Evelyn Davis (who is half of the experimental duo Chiromancer). In the East Bay, Kowloon Walled City will be joined by noted art-punk power trio Rip Room and Oakland hardcore band Greyhound.
Kowloon Walled City Record Release Parties
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m. $12-$15
The Bottom of the Hill
Saturday, Nov. 13, 9 p.m. $12-$15
The Golden Bull