Chip Kinman's Great Confrontation
Punk Rock Legend Goes Full Electro-Rogue
0000Over the course of a remarkable, groundbreaking 40+ year career, Los Angeles musician Chip Kinman has consistently defied both rock & roll orthodoxy and his audience’s expectations. With new double disc set The Great Confrontation, Kinman drastically fulfills decades of artistic promise even as he kicks over the table, delivering a sustained jolt of electro-psychic cartography that is equal parts feral orchestral instinct and cunningly refined aesthetic subtleties.
The audacious path which led him here was a steadily progressive and distinguished exercise in rattling the creative chain of custody. Starting with legendary ‘77 punk agitators the Dils, trailblazing early 80s Americana provocateurs Rank & File, sulphurous techno insurgents Blackbird, deep Western duo Cowboy Nation and high-impact, guerilla blues shock troupe FDMDXFD, Kinman flourished in lifelong concert with his late, brilliant elder brother Tony. Theirs was an exceptional collaboration which always staked out heretofore unexplored territory and profoundly influenced generations of musicians.
“Tony and I were always contrary,” Kinman said. “Contrary not only to what was popular in the public sphere but also contrary to what we’d already done, a lot of radical zigs and zags. Every record we put out has fucked with or pushed whatever genre we were working in. What’s the use of being Chip Kinman if I can’t make a record like this?”
Flying solo, Kinman has reached a wilder stratospheric yonder and The Great Confrontation strikes an electrifying blow against convention as it expands and furthers that intensely iconoclastic legacy.
“It’s a noise record,” Kinman said. “There’s no beat, but there is a pulse. It’s not conventional pop song structure, there’s no verse chorus verse and it’s definitely not EDM. It’s very abrasive, in-your-face, but some people said it has a calming effect, somehow soothing. I didn’t see that at all but listening to the test pressing, I could see how they did. It’s like acupressure or Lasik—it kinda hurts but afterwards you can see.”
The entire creative process was . . . irregular. Kinman signed on with In the Red, the fabled indie oddity imprint whose releases, per founder-president Larry Hardy, “always shoot for that ‘Holy Fuck!’ factor,” a quality which Kinman assuredly delivered.
“He paid me and I didn’t record a note for over a year,” Kinman said. “Finally, with the lockdown, it was like ‘Okay, you don’t have anything else to do, so make the record.’ I set up a studio in my house, with a Tascam ½ inch 8 track reel to reel, a MoogMuSonics circa 1970 synthesizer, turned it all on and began searching for a sound. When I found one, then I’d start building a song.”
“I would go in, compose and record one song per day, then listen to what I’d done the next day and think where does it need to go from here? And that would set up as a guidepost to where I went with the next composition. I don’t know a lot about electronics and synthesizers but I do know how to make records”
Great works of art are seldom mild or affirmative and The Great Confrontation presents a bold challenge. Conceived and executed solely by Kinman, it is predicated upon a remote viewing of elemental themes—life’s temporal nature, Biblical meditations, good and evil, sheer cosmological fuck offery—presented as a clangorously rendered sonic-soul Q&A where the queries and responses rise and fall amongst the gloriously shattered metaphorical wreckage of 21st century Western Civilization.
Indeed, he takes on two of the folk andspiritual canons most cherished numbers, “Danny Boy” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”
“I had a Casio keyboard with all these preprogrammed songs and I scrolled through it, was listening to stuff like ‘Happy Birthday,’ ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home,’ ‘Moonlight Sonata,’” Kinman said. “And I got to ‘Danny Boy’ and thought ‘My gosh,