Raketkanon: Meet Belgium's weirdest band
"We're not part of any scene," says Pieter-Paul Devos
Is it written into Ghent's legislature that any band forming within its city limits are bound by law to skirt around the edges of rock's myriad sub-genres?
In the last couple of decades, the East Flanders province has burped out bands of note like Evil Superstar and Soulwax, and now, our attentions turn to its hottest new export: Raketkanon.
Baby Godzilla's Matt Reynolds has shared stages with the Ghent foursome, and he bloody loves them.
“Their hooks are bizarrely huge”, says Reynolds. “In such a way that you find yourself trying to comprehend what all of these strange noises are. On one hand they’re capable of hammering out huge crushing riffs, but then there's also elements of tech-y math-rock in there too. Honestly, they sound like they're from another planet.”
Blood Red Shoes' Steven Ansell likes Raketkanon so much that he decided to give their latest single, Florent, a UK release via his band’s own record label, Jazz Life.
“We heard their first album (RKTKN#1) through some friends we met on tour in Belgium," explains the drummer. “Laura-Mary (Carter, guitar/vocals) and I both really liked how brutal and weird it was. When we heard they were recording their new one with Steve Albini, we thought we've gotta release [something] and help get them noticed in the UK.”
The four-piece – made up of Pieter-Paul Devos (vocals), Jef Verbeeck (guitar), Lode Vlaeminck (synth-bass) and Pieter de Wilde (drums) – began gaining attention in their home country after the release of their debut album in 2013. The 10 songs on RKTKN#1 channels the likes of the Melvins, Refused, Tool and the Butthole Surfers into a distinct and original blend of noise rock, punk and experimental electronica. The result is mayhem.
“We make music without boundaries," says Raketkanon singer Pieter-Paul Devos. “The process of creation happens together and everyone is free to do what they feel. If people think that we make noise, that's cool. But for us, our music is just a way to express ourselves. We think melody and intensity are two important things to keep in mind. Our musical vision is pretty abstract. We’re all about intensity and sincere emotion.”
That “musical vision” is characterised by a compelling tapestry of noise and dramatic textures that threaten to unravel at any moment. Crushing onslaughts of dischordant din are underscored by psychedelic drones, warped synthesisers, and progressive breakdowns, generating a sense of danger that’s lacking in so many of today’s guitar-based bands.