Squanky Kong Tears Boundaries Asunder on Dawn of the Cataclysm
It’s hard to decide which is better on Squanky Kong’s “Dawn of the Cataclysm” LP—the meaning and lyrics to the songs on this project, or the sheer delight of the music behind them.
On certain numbers, like the leadoff “Across the Uncanny Valley”, it seems as though the latter is way in front of the former, notwithstanding the fact that the word ‘uncanny’ is in the title. But you’ve just got to hear the bass line flowing to deliberately plodding drums dressed up, barely, with a smattering of organ and a wandering guitar chord or two. Believe you me, that bass is trill, takes over the entire track in its musicianship, and is an ideal backdrop for the female singer—no slouch in her own right, more on that in a sec—to ease her way into the verses, like gliding into the warmth of the sea.
On other pieces, as is the case on “Know End Insight”, the power of the lyrics, the witticism behind it, and the name of the tune is simply undeniable. While dropping a fun, almost rhythmic sounding melody on the verses, the female vocalist (Leah Martin-Brown) kicks aphorisms about the proclivity to “run away from the brutality/we must always fight to stay alive”.
All music and lyrics on this project are by James Michael House, who certainly knows something about double and triple entendres and getting the most out of the words on the literal and figurative level (which is typically more befitting of an English course than a rock album, but Cataclysm is the rare exception).
Just think, for a second, about what “Know End Insight” (which is phrased as ‘know end in sight’ by Martin-Brown) means. Once you’ve wrapped your head around that, check out the lyrics on “Despicable Doublethink”, but only if you can get past the guitars. On this number the wah wahs are working in concert with the electric guitar note for note, with a funky, down and dirty appeal that is rare to come by in any sort of music.
On other cuts like “The Gadget”, the electric guitar riff is so right it dominates everything except for the hook. Credit bassist/guitarist/producer James Michael Johnson with doing things right on both ends, the music and the words, while stirring up a compelling piece of art indicative of the onset of the third decade of the millennium.