February 10, 2015

EP: Bate Kush - Bad Kisser

Bate Kush gets the last laugh.

I’m from Los Angeles. In a year and a half, I’ll be moving back from Philadelphia. I am constantly immersed in this tug-of-war sensation between the two. It’s like being in love with two people —when I have a moment between me and one city, I feel an intense pang of guilt, as if I’ve been unfaithful to the other. But every once in a while, something occurs, where those two loves feel harmonious. This usually happens when some form of art is created on the opposite coast that resonates with what I’m trying to do now. It's as if focusing on either location is not a hindrance to my identity, which happens while listening to Bad Kisser.

San Francisco’s Bate Kush is the more accessible counterpart of ambient drone artist Foie Gras. Bad Kisser is an eight-track EP that spans just over six minutes and functions as self-depreciating, John Darnielle-ian type poems. They are poems in their length, most only run around one minute long, and they are poems in their content. Seriously, you can read the lyrics without the music and they are able to stand alone. They are ultimately love songs that twist in your gut, leaving you with the cruel joke that romance can often be, the punchline you so rarely hear. The music itself sounds somewhere between Grouper and Angel Olsen, an avant-acoustic that situates itself between a muddy drone and a fragile guitar.

On the track "Seen it All", underwater hums are broken apart by airy vocals: “Hope somebody breaks your heart / in the back of an alley / with a baseball bat / so you know / how it feels / loving you.” There’s sort of an old folk thread that weaves its way through this ambient tone, like on “Hide the T.R.E.A.T.S”, where this cavernous sonic warmth supplements a narrative of past dogs, past loves, and past tears. “Judgment Day” manages to be solemn without being self-serious. Practically hymnal in its reiteration of “I will live forever”, a sound clip interjected from Terminator 2 helps keep the heartbreak at bay. And despite utilizing a line made famous by Joe Cocker (I think?) on closer track “God lived as a devil dog”, (“You are so beautiful… to me”), this song sums up Bate Kush’s capabilities on Bad Kisser. It is both melodic and absurd, beautiful and intangible, funny and sad, true to the EP’s precedence. And it looks like Bate Kush will be the one who has the last laugh.


Listen to Bate Kush on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.