Confusingly named Peter Kernel release new long player The Size of the Night on 9th March via On The Camper records. Whilst sounding like an acoustic guitar wielding singer songwriter, the band are actually a duo comprised of Barbara and Aris, Canadian & Swiss respectively and now based out of Switzerland. When asked whether they are a couple, their response is that they don’t know. All very intriguing.
According to their official bio, the pair met at college in Lugano in Switzerland, and apparently detested each other for years until he discovered her experimental film installations and she discovered his music. After falling in love, they started writing music together, performing live together and becoming more and more experimental.
The name Peter Kernel was chosen as the pair were looking to create a character, a persona behind which to experiment and create these soundscapes, with Peter representing a general run of the mill name, and Kernel being the essence of something.
And so to the album, and what it actually sounds like.....and that’s where I’m struggling. This a sound that fans of Low, Sonic Youth, Swans and Moon Duo will appreciate, as it both sounds like a lots of these influences yet like none of them at the same time. Confused - you will be.
The sound is angular, yet smooth, hypnotic yet in your face, morose yet uplifting and completely enthralling. This is front and centre music that demands listening to, not background music whilst distracted by something else. The song titles don’t give much away regarding what the hell is going on - The Shape of Your Face In Space (partly sung in Italian just to add to the disorientation), Drift to Death, The Secret of Happiness and The Fatigue of Passing The Night to name but four. Serious songs mingle with the surreal with the resulting outcome of something quite extraordinary.
If you are used to verse chorus verse music, in a 4:4 time signature, this album might not be for you, but if you are open to dark, brooding experimental sounds, you will be richly rewarded.