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Samuel Kerridge
Kick To Kill Bernie Brooks , July 6th, 2022 08:43

Samuel Kerridge giddily kills the vibe and subverts expectations on the inaugural release of his Downwards sub-label Kick To Kill, says Bernie Brooks


I spent a month in Washington, DC, last week. My partner (a genius) was invited to an arts think tank of sorts. Me (not a genius), I drove us the nine hours there. Now, it’s possible you might think DC is a cool place, what with Fugazi and Dischord and all. Trust when I say it is emphatically not. Especially where we were posted up, in basically the heart of Ghoul Town, with soul-dead legacy failchildren and high-on-ambition-and-Adderall valedictorians as far as the eye can see, dressed in boring-by-design clothes that treble my mortgage easily, whose only goal in life is to clerk or intern with one entrenched ghoul or another, then staff for a ghoul, then one day become an entrenched ghoul themselves and perpetuate the cycle.

As a place, it buzzes with malevolence. People talk about feeling threatened in traditional bad rep places like my hometown, but dear reader, nothing is more threatening than a group of gifted-track, power-suited, shark-eyed power brokers sipping coffee outside of an Hermès. 

Anyway, turns out this was a perfect environment to test drive Samuel Kerridge’s new one, Kick To Kill, itself buzzing with a bit of industrial, “cut the smile from your face” malevolence, but in a good way – a punk, oppositional-defiant-disorder sort of malevolence.


Ages and ages ago, when I was a kid, there were these Crash Test Dummy toys. They were kinda messed up in retrospect. You’d stick these two goofballs in a wee automobile and smash it into something. The car would explode dramatically into pieces and so would the dummies, their heads and limbs flying from their spring-loaded torsos. Eventually, the little torsos would get lost and you’d be left with a macabre assortment of arms and legs and heads.

Which is, weirdly, what comes to mind when I listen to Kick To Kill. Especially its best tracks, which at first I thought of as possessing a disembodied quality, but that’s wrong. To be disembodied implies a ghostliness, an ethereality. Here, Kerridge’s music is nothing if not bodied, corporeal to the extreme, sat in delineated space. But like those stupid dummies, it’s dismembered. Those best tracks, like ‘In Memoriam To Identity’ and ‘Shattered Illusion’, feel carved away and gutted until the torso is all but gone. Their Woo!’s and yelps and knocks and subs are corresponding limbs arranged just so on the floor, the arms and legs of post-punk and industrial and ambient and rave that Kerridge plays with like toys.

The sound is often as if Kerridge simply deleted a channel someone else might’ve thought to be essential, replacing it with nothing but an emptiness. Anyway, turns out that channel wasn’t essential at all.


It’s Memorial Day weekend as I type this, which can only mean one thing in Metro Detroit: Movement, the storied electronic music festival that’s been going strong for years and years. To be honest, despite loving electronic and beat-driven music, it’s never really been my thing – a series of samey lineups set in a sun-baked concrete plaza, crammed official and unofficial after parties scattered everywhere. But for a lot of people I know, this is the weekend of the year. Well, just over half a week, what with the pre-parties and after parties and whatnot. Powered by chemical refreshment, some folks go nearly 24 hours a day for four debauched days.

I used to like to go to the local coffee shop on the Tuesday afterward. See, I’m told that the very same chemical refreshment that powers so many Movement attendees’ revelry also strips their noggins of precious, precious serotonin. As a result, the place would be wall-to-wall with Movement wreckage gripping warm mugs, most wrapped in a blanket of serotonin-scraped despondency – often for days at a time. It was wild, and honestly didn’t seem like a worthwhile trade-off.

I’m thinking of those poor souls, swaddled in chill-out comps, and it occurs to me that Kick To Kill could be the sound of their post-Movement hell. Despite employing some very chill synth textures, Kerridge inevitably, sometimes almost immediately, punctures the veil of serenity with a menacing sub or a Blade Runner whomp or some perfectly horrible texture. And that’s to say nothing of the spat vox or the answering machine message. Similarly, the bangers here often resist euphoria, pulling the plug just when you think they might build to a peak. Some don’t even get to be bangers in the first place. Opener ‘Shit In Glitter’, for instance, giddily kills the vibe less than twenty seconds in. What initially seems like a blood-pumping, Gnod-style ripper pivots suddenly to a dirge of feedback and spoken word. For those of us with some serotonin left, as an album it’s a welcome (if not welcoming), wild ride. Even during its most contemplative moments, Kick To Kill is never staid, never less than compelling. And anyhow, you know those moments won’t last long.

Strangely, this might be Kerridge at his most accessible. Unlike some of his earlier releases, one needn’t be into Jean Cocteau or be able to withstand unrelentingly harsh noise. In that sense, it’s not hard to imagine open-minded listeners diving right in to Kick To Kill, making it an especially appropriate inaugural release for his new Downwards sub-label of the same name. (Fans of Regis take note!) Still, relatively accessible though it may be, as evinced above this may also be Kerridge at his most confounding – it’s those puckish, punkish tendencies again. Indeed, from track to track and within them, Kerridge is a master of subverting expectations – rarely leading the listener to the destination they expect.

Anyway, turns out you don't need to give the people what they expect to give them a great time.