Video Premiere: Qoheleth — “Wampus” & “Kudzu/Grendel”
Charlotte, NC noise punkers Qoheleth make cool, chaotic music with surprising thematic depth. Their music is the kind of stuff that when someone says, “Pfft, my kid could have done that!” you get kinda bummed out that that person doesn’t realize their kid is a real artist. You should check out their Bandcamp page, on which they have put out 9 releases since 2017, all ranging from name-your-price to pretty cheap! But first, a video.
Qoheleth’s music is the type that on first listens scratches a kind of visceral, Beav-mind itch with its weirdness and scratchiness, but after that, the groove takes hold and the music grows on me in a way beyond that, though that initial appeal still remains.The video’s warping, tearing, and doubling mirrors the music, and the two each form exactly one half of a balanced breakfast out of which we can spin a lot of meaning so long as we remember to follow Qoheleth’s motto, “Written by accident. Played by instinct,” and take things very seriously and also not seriously at all.
In part of the video for “Wampus”, the simplistic notions of a few good people—or robots—triumphing over the few bad people to save the world, notions that we enjoyed in the 80s and 90s of our childhoods, are embodied by clips from an obscure old piece of mecha Koreanime called Phoenix King or alternatively, Defenders of Space. But the reassuring sugar rush of the cartoonish morality plays of our youth has in the decades since festered into an industrial, cloying aftertaste, and so the bots’ valiant efforts melt and warp in a digital-atomic apocalypse, the reality of our world’s systemic complexity and cruelty crashing in on our heroes. And yet, a cacophony of voices howl out at us from beneath the collapsing fuzz in which they’re buried in order to rage out at the present and exhort us to create a better future. As the song’s onslaught of bass whumps and rubbery electronic screeches comes to a close, the lyrics’ urgency comes to a climax. The voices demand, “Who do we want to be / What will we pass down / It can be better / It must be better!” and a sledgehammer comes crashing through the tv we have been watching to shatter our frustration and disgust.
Are we the wampus? A strange, messy creature that receives nothing but pain by being forced to live in such an inwampan shape as SOCIETY forces us to live? Or, are we the wampus because we have the trve earthly power to reject society? Checkmate, capitalists.
Keanu, The Breathtaking One soothes our frayed souls with an apology, and we are ready to experience the second song, which is a little bit more rawkin’ in a traditional sense. Just try not to join in with the wiggly hands! Can’t be done. Thematically, “Kudzu/Grendel” seems to be in harmony with “Wampus”, but with themes of earthliness and celestiality added. “Our bodies know the truth / deep within / sinew, bone, and gut”, and an image of a skull is drawn over a woman’s face. Maybe we are Grendel, alienated by modern life and innocent in a primordial kind of way, struggling to cave-headbutt our way out of the choking, invasive kudzu-vine tangle of the Zuckery succage, clawing our way, but maybe we are also the Teletubby-like cyclopean star beings, possessed of the clear celestial sight we’ve all had deep down ever since we did the whole Big Bang thing.
Anyway, this is just my high school essay interpretation, and there’s a lot I didn’t even touch on. Try making your own! It’s fun to think about how the music, video, and lyrics work together. You can listen to—or purchase!—“Wampus” and “Kudzu/Grendel” on Euphoriadic’s Strange and Unusual Sounds Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 compilations, respectively. Those comps are a real bang-for-your-buck proposition, btw. They are $3 and $6.66 respectively, and feature a cornholecopia of artists including Adzes, Putrescine, Gonemage, Drainbow, Non Serviam, and S H R I E K I N G.