Sweden’s Freak Kitchen, featuring guitar virtuoso Mattias “IA” Eklundh, have returned with a ripping slab of musical whimsy, titled Cooking With Pagans. This 12-track, progressive rock album simultaneously “roasts” contemporary culture and explores new, quirky ways of musical self-expression.
Neither pure “djent” nor pure progressive metal, this heavy music is thoughtfully composed and fantastically played. Tunes have a modern, digital, super crisp delivery, seeming to eschew what the analog bandwagon is currently trending. The music is fresh, experimental, and dead serious. Most of the riffs are composed with staccato, urgent stabs. This contrasts with the solos that have a fantastic variety of textures, tones, and slippery legato passages.
The record isn’t “over-orchestrated” with superfluous instruments or parts. There are plenty of layers, overlapping vocal choruses, and idea shifts to keep listeners pleased. Influences as broad as ragtime, free jazz, pop-punk, and East Indian music combine with ultra-modern Western composition to perk the ears and tickle the fancy. For listeners looking for more accessible fodder, two tunes are more ‘regular rock’: “Sloppy” with it’s Western bent, and “Private Property”, a melodic hard-rock anthem replete with crazy solos.
Lyrics are very “living in the here and now”; ever so humorous, campy, ephemeral, and desultory. A partial passage from “(Saving Up for an) Anal Bleach” streams this consciousness:
“Shit, I’m low on battery,
iPad parent, shame on me.
Pierce my eye, a dream about
A testicle tattoo”
That’s what Freak Kitchen does: relay their messages in a weird, “freaky”, funny way.
It’s not as ambitious as, say, Protest the Hero or Animals as Leaders, nor as plain out-there as Frank Zappa. It doesn’t have to be; it’s a fun joyride through some sophisticated, off-the-wall, guitar-heavy music. Because of the rock music with vocals slant, it’s more accessible then some virtuoso-type releases, but songs differ significantly enough from eachother that the variety is both distracting and connecting. “IA” is one of those elite “musician’s musicians”, so the nuances, peaks, and valleys of this disc are likely going to be fully appreciated by those who attempt to jam along.
And like most enigmatic, highly instrumentalized music, at some point, the written word fails to describe it’s richness. This is an experiential disc: something that really needs to be heard to “get”. Bottom line: Freak Kitchen embodies absurdist, hyperbolic fun. Cooking With Pagans is a slightly culturally blasphemous, new, interesting listen. It’s irreverent, attempting to placate nobody, but not schizophrenic. And if you play guitar, keeping up with “IA” will bust your chops like nobody’s business.
Freak of the Week
Goody Goody (Benny Goodman cover)
(Saving Up for an) Anal Bleach
Mathematics of Defeat
I Don’t Want to Golf
Come Back to Comeback
Ranks of the Terrified
Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan
Mattias ‘IA’ Eklundh: vocals, guitar
Christer Ortefors: bass, vocals
Bjorn Fryklund: drums
Official Band Website