Sometimes you are privileged enough to meet extraordinary people who are talented, make a difference in the world around them and most importantly are very human. Kieren Hills is definitely one of those rare humans. From Lawson, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, he runs the label Dorfpunk, Dark Horse is his crust punk project, he has turned his hand to gothic fare with Death Church and has been involved in the music industry for a fair while. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is his one man industrial project and the first full length album, Isolated And Alone, was released on the 14th of December, which is a follow up to the EP, Give Me Nothing. I once described the music style as very Laibach and it still is but those harsh elements of industrial are very much present.
The song that kicks this off is the single “Broken“. From the start, you are going into Hills’ world with the warning that this is the representation of a brief psychotic episode. Massive reverb flies with the static, consuming your ears as the vocals savage your brain. It is the explanation of an episode where everything is over stimulating, you don’t want to die but the effort to actually live seems far too hard. The klaxons hail in “Warning” that has the drum machine pounding away as the music blares in.
All shall be reduced to the same particles of dust when the “Wraith” comes. The synths are almost ear bleeding in their pitch and give a sensation of dysphoria. All is lost as love and hope are wiped away to be replaced with fear and ultimately nothing. “State Violence State Control” has the blaring sirens of Australian emergencies services screaming in the background (so this is not the sort of song I will play in the car while driving because it always scares the crap out of me!!). If the title is familiar, that is because it is a cover of punk legends, Discharge, who are the godfathers of d-beat and this was also released on a split single but since then reworked and mastered for the album. It is every bit as angry as the original version, in electronic form, throwing two finger in the air to politicians, cronies and violent suppression of the masses.
Normally an interlude is a short piece to give the audience a break with some light music, that then soon gets back to the main entertainment or a bridge. “Interlude” is the interlude you are going to get and you better just hunker down and stick to the programme. It starts lightly enough with flowing synths before the rhythm picks up and Kieren informs you – It’s happened before It’s happened before And millions have died And millions have died And millions have died And millions of people have died. A warning that history is repeating itself because people either don’t want to see it or don’t educate themselves. The vocals bring forth visions of holocausts, military coups/enforcement, genocide and war.
Full of loathing and dark thoughts is “Disappointment” starting slowly and picks up speed as the those thoughts become a swirling overload. There is a beautiful synth line hidden within if one listens closely. It is like a veritable scream of fury into the aether, with the metallic beats. When someone refused to go to war because they were a conscientious objector, they were called cowards and “Traitors” to their country because they didn’t want to carry a gun and kill their own kind. Their is an urgency to this track like life itself depends on movement. Fittingly, the “Last Dance” is the final track and the track about finality. When the end comes will you have the last embracing waltz into the darkness? So I guess in a way though it sounds bleak there is a romantic side to it as well.
I am privileged to call this man a friend though I had seen him live before I had met him. In short his show blew us away. He is warm and charming, loves his family, music and pottering around in his garden because it brings him closer to nature. These things are also his sanctuary from the world and especially the last two years have been mentally difficult for many people.
100% of proceeds from digital sales will go to Transcend to help create a world where Trans, Gender Diverse and Non-Binary children are embraced and given every opportunity to thrive and flourish – the man has a beautiful heart and a keen ear.
Get in quick if you want the vinyl or cassette as they always go fast. Just to prove how hard core Schkeuditzer Kreuz truly are, the original pressings of the vinyl were done in China, finished and then confiscated after some complete and utter bastard had a listen, ending up in the whole batch being deemed subversive. That is so punker that thou. It’s an emotional roller-coaster but its well worth every moment and maybe you will find it as cathartic as Kieren Hills does because in the end we are not so Isolated And Alone.