Track Premiere: Knut Cracks the Whip with “Spit”

Switzerland’s Knut was always a band that skirted on the edge of multiple genres, but never committed in one direction or another for any sustained amount of time in order to be pigeonholed. They were as metal as they were hardcore, as high-brow mathematical as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, they loved dishing out punishing acerbic noise as much as soothing with ambient drones, they exuded as much brightness as sinister darkness and oozed equal amounts of artistic snobbery as clunkerhead jocularity.

One of my favorite memories of the band is the year they somehow ended up playing the Milwaukee Metal Fest. Most people are aware of the fact that the MMF wasn’t exactly known for its organizational skills, scheduling acumen and respectable treatment of bands, a point vocalist Didier Séverin aired out from the lip of whichever of the approximately 28 stages running that year, exclaiming, “We are Knut from Switzerland and we came 4000 miles to play 20 minutes for you!” On the flip side, the band’s music was as serious as a heart attack and enough of a broadstroke that had them comfortably sharing stages with ISIS, Converge, Neurosis, Voivod, the Young Gods, Zeni Geva, Blockheads, Pelican, Nile, Jesu and the Cancer Conspiracy.

The above paragraph speaks of Knut – the Russian word for ‘whip’ – in the past tense because their official status since 2012 has been “on indefinite hiatus.” Though, as drummer Roderic Mounir asserts below, the band quietly called it quits in 2013. So, well, there you go.

In an encouraging sign of life, Hummus Records has secured the rights and responsibility for the re-issue of the band’s first release, Leftovers. Call it an album, call it an EP, call it whatever suits your fancy, the seven-songs have undergone a sonic re-sculpting, there’s an all-new artwork/design/layout and Hummus is pressing it on vinyl for the first time. As such, today we’re offering up a sneak peak at the new and improved Leftovers in the form of “Spit.”

When asked, drummer Roderic Mounir had this to say about the band he co-founded in 1994 and the Leftovers re-issue:

“When the fine people at Hummus Records approached us, showing interest in reissuing records that mean something to them and hopefully to a bunch of people, we couldn’t say no. These guys are doing an incredible job helping upcoming artists from Switzerland, like Coilguns and making a name for themselves. For us, the opportunity of releasing our very first album on vinyl for the first time was a no-brainer. All people involved in the re-mastering and the new layout are old friends; it’s just the greatest alliance you can figure.

“It’s funny, I have some very vivid memories, but at the same time the period we’re talking about bears little resemblance to what we know now. No internet, no social media. Our first demos were good old tapes and we used to book our tours writing letters or faxes. Fanzines, tape trading and word of mouth were key to any ambition beyond our local boundaries. But everything took time, which we had back then as we were students and working part-time. We were learning fast, reading a lot, making friends in all kinds of scenes, absorbing music and influences without limitations. You would see the same people at punk/hardcore, metal, noise, industrial and improvisational shows in squats and alternative/no profit venues. It was very exciting. We included these influences, blurring boundaries – it even inspired our second album’s title, Bastardiser. Leftovers laid the foundation.

“We called it quits in 2013 after 20 years of activity, and we don’t feel like we’ve left any stone unturned. Didier is now deeply immersed in drone, check out his project strom|morts. We’re all involved in music to a degree. We look forward to preserving the Knut legacy with a couple more reissues.”

Hummus Records

Knut online at: Bandcamp, Facebook