Release Date: Jul 1, 2013
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Part feral provocateur and part suave, androgynous, erudite crooner, Aussie rocker Kirin J. Callinan's first introduction to the public was as the guitarist for Sydney-based indie rockers Mercy Arms, who were poised for early-aughts greatness but dissolved in 2009 amidst a toxic tonic of industry buffoonery and creative differences before they could reach their full potential. A true howler in the early, Birthday Party-era Nick Cave/Scary Monsters-era David Bowie mold, Callinan's solo debut, the equally exhausting and exhilarating Embracism, offers up ten slabs of electro/industrial/dream pop/experimental rock that invoke names like Chris Connelly, Trent Reznor, Iggy Pop, and John Grant while maintaining a fierce sense of individuality.
Review Summary: The stars are all dirt and God is in the water… and hell is right here on earth.Controversial, provocative and flamboyant are the most frequent adjectives used to describe Kirin J. Callinan. Once the guitarist for promising indie rockers Mercy Arms, this Australian musician has been notorious for his artistic provocations, thriving on testing his audience and introducing taboo subjects into his music.
This raspy-throated singer and guitarist has snagged comparisons to fellow Australian Nick Cave, though his dramatic style can bring more of an industrial-smitten Bowie to mind. His strange voice is surrounded with sleepy, soothing sounds in some songs, but the album's most fascinating tracks are its harsher ones. The title track is a visceral rumination on masculinity, breaking down at one point into the power dynamics of a playground scuffle; Callinan's throttled bark here is more injured animal than man, and the scraping, abrasive instrumentals add to mixed feelings of discomfort and shame.
Kirin J Callinan has some pretty conventional ways of establishing himself as an unconventional, provocative artist. The Australian native sings and more often howls in a louche, heavily accented brogue that rarely has much use for cadence or strict melody-- a confrontational pose that startles the listener into attention. He also performs solo, looping his guitar and vocals through a battery of effects and headsets, relieving you of the temptation to focus your eyes elsewhere.
Kirin J CallinanEmbracism[XL / Siberia / Terrible; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; July 22, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetKirin J Callinan lays a lot bare on his debut album. On Embracism he punches out his words, snarling, shouting, and dropping into deadpan at a moment’s notice; schizophrenic you might even say. His imagery and lyrics are just as intense, all about finding that middle ground between love and anger; nature and fashion; masturbation and devotion; fear and glory.
With a gnarly, throat-shredding voice and confrontational stage persona, Australian Kirin J Callinan does not make it easy to love his music. A mix of Trent Reznor and Patrick Wolf, he’s both an industrial piledriver and theatrical show-off, making this debut record disorientating, confusing and exciting. ‘Way II War’ and ‘Come On USA’ are abrasive and discordant.
Usually if an artist tries to write music that spans several genres, it tends to happen over the course of several years, and numerous albums. More often than not, it’s a case of a musician finding a style that works for them, writing a record and then going back to write another, and another, and then another. Until they run out of ideas. And then, very often, doing it all once more after all the ideas are long gone.
One could be forgiven for doubting this would ever happen: that Kirin J Callinan, the Australian noise guitarist and in-concert agitator, could commit himself long enough to the studio to record a proper debut, one that stands apart from his various shenanigans and refocuses his energy—if only for forty-two sinewy minutes—on actual music. Callinan’s first year as a solo artist, following the surge of acclaim for his Romanek-indebted debut video “Way II War,” played like an unsettling riot of reasons to thoroughly root against him. Last October, after his first American show in Brooklyn, Jon Caramanica penned a conceptual hate piece in the Times that reduced Callinan’s bête noire stage presence to a punchline: “You look uncomfortable, awkward, maybe a little unstable…you probably read some Brecht.
Kirin J Callinan, the Australian singer, guitarist and song vandalizer, is 27, but his voice, low and abraded, sounds as if it has been around the block longer than that. Blindfolded, you might think you’re hearing a man in his early 40s who’s had some months or years of sleeping in bus stations. This may be the best thing about him, because no matter how impulsive or unwise the choices he makes on his first solo album, “Embracism,” they sound as if they were coming from a mature place.