A while back I wrote an entry about the return to the music scene of former Kasabian man Chris Karloff and his new project Black Onassis. At the end of that article I looked forward to a potential album that was seemingly in the pipeline; that album has now landed in the shape of 13-track record ‘Desensitized’. And it’s an absolute belter.
Right from the start, the title track offers a dark and intriguing taster of what’s to come, with electro-synth riffs and an inventive heartbeat-like drum rhythm.
The entire album is littered with psychedelic hits and trippy sounds that come together to take the listener on a musical journey through what feels like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie.
You can kind of imagine this record providing the backdrop to a film documenting the birth and rise of some horrific beast, or the interrogation and torture of a captured hostage.
What sets this apart from many records is the interesting deployment of vocals; Black Onassis features no recognised full-time vocalist. Instead, guest vocals appear to bring the record to life, and offer stirring variation from track-to-track.
In fact, some of the songs remain completely instrumental, which gives the album an even deeper sense of foreboding. This is never more evident than on penultimate track ‘ADHD’, with its warning siren intro building into an inevitable crescendo of schizophrenic beats.
‘Humans Animals‘ remains much the same, with distorted recordings of human voices providing a trippy and haunting combination with its psychotic tune.
Desensitized incites a sense of chaos from within, constantly drawing new emotions as it ranges from growling bass lines to almost ethereal electro melodies.
‘Trip B’ is one of the highlights, a distorted synth and buzzing guitars providing the backing for the juxtaposed angelic voice of Liela Moss who perhaps reflects Karloff’s own return by singing: “Don’t care how long it will take you, everything good takes time.”
Morgan Kibby provides another stunning female vocal on ‘Ether’, a further standout piece that continues this message of aggression and impending doom with Morgan building up to deliver the line: “Spoiling for a good fight, when will I get what I need?”
‘Brain‘, featuring the former Cooper Temple Clause frontman Ben Gautrey, also purveys the sense of gothic psychedelia and moody darkness. “Why won’t you ever smile? God knows it’s been a while,” questions Gautrey on the catchy chorus.
The whole record seems to carry this feeling of an echo, as though it was recorded in an abandoned church or hall. The continuous assault of hits feel like a predator toying with its prey, before finishing it off with its final knockout blow which comes in the shape of the aforementioned ‘ADHD‘.
Drawing a comparison with Karloff’s old Kasabian work would be too easy. Desensitized stands alone as a superb piece of work; an exciting debut from Black Onassis.
Best tracks: Trip B, Minus Humans, Ether, Brain.