“There was no introduction” is the perfect opening lyric to Glasgow band the John Knox Sex Club’s new album Oh Wow! Must be the Devil.
First track Minotaur begins with a couple of bars of lyrics over a pulsating bass line.
Then plunges into crashing drums, distorted guitars and a violin.
The track Hard Days erupts and then abruptly dissipates as a simple melody line emerges—“There’ll be hard days to come”.
It illuminates a key aspect of the band’s live performances. The audience is encouraged to join in, and become a part of the musical performance.
The distance between the audience as the consumer and the performers as the product disappears.
The alienation associated with marketed concerts is completely shattered. Lead singer Sean said, “Music can bring people together, so why not actually actively do that?”
In fact, Sean and guitarist Rory often clamber down off stage to join the crowd. Rory said, “I need to be in the crowd, because the music is a release for the audience and for us.
“Why should performance be any other way?”
This is art that is not remote from its listeners. Rory explained, “Politics is engrained into the lyrics and into the music, the density of it, the harshness.”
It’s this combination that makes a biting condemnation of the capitalist music market.
Sean’s thought-provoking lyrics often take centre stage. But the rest of the band are never mere accompaniments.
The guitar’s grumbling drones, the tones of the violin, the bassists colourful riffs all contribute to the music’s complex texture.
Violinist Emer’s lilting melodies are reminiscent of Scottish folk music.
They pierce through the low grumbling registers of the rhythm section.
Their musical style remains illusive to definition.
Soulful lyrics, Scottish folk influence and subtle blues melodies add to their distinctive sound. The complexity and originality of John Knox brings the promise of more creative music to come.
The band’s shared experience comes together to considerable effect in Oh Wow! Must Be the Devil.
It is refreshing to experience music which breaks from the norm, smashes conventional boundaries and invites you to participate.
It is invigorating music, consistently delivered with a bracing energy. I cannot recommend it more highly.