Second Hand Wonderland

2012, Napalm Records

Review by Eleonora Muzzi - Publish on: 03/05/12

You look at the stack of CDs ready to be reviewed and mentally singing Eeny Meeny Miny Moe you sort the upcoming releases, then you set your eyes on a record that at first glance does not look  earth-shattering or anything, at least considering its cover, the band's name and its title. You stick it in your computer, plug the headphones so you do not bother anyone and press play... And you get dragged into a vortex of complete madness and illogic. Considering what's coming through your ears you open Google and looking for information about the band you discover that Kontrust is a  crossover band that wears lederhosen, the typical leather pants of the alpine areas of Austria and South Tirol, when it gets on stage. You stare at the screen and do not know whether they are to be considered lunatics or absolute geniuses.

Since how "Second Hand Wonderland" is performed we will opt for geniuses. Completely beyond any type of scheme, both musically and aesthetically speaking, Kontrust have come to the release of their third album in eleven years of career and, as mentioned above, they will drag their listeners into a whirlwind of totally schizophrenic music. You don't really know where to look! "Sock 'n' Doll" begins with the yodel of the "Heidi" theme song, the cartoon from our childhood, continues with a reggae-like spin then starts with hard rock, but it shuffle the cards again mid-song, with yodel, accordions and a chorus that wouldn't sound bad in any dance song out there. "Falling" is a little more "normal" song, but as soon as "Monkey Boy" starts it is again impossible to understand anything, starting from the sharp fracture between chorus and verse. You dive into a strange mixture of Eastern European folk music and hard rock with "Rasputin" and enter the Oktober Fest with the beginning of "Adrenalin", not to mention the absolutely insane "Hocus Pocus", which is somehow a more “standard” song, musically speaking, along with "Falling", let alone its definitely insane lyrics, considering that the chorus consists in the repetition of classic magician's spells (including the Sim Sala Bim of our Mago Silvan).

We must say that this is an album that if you love it in the first round, the second could cause opposite feelings, as it requires a certain degree of openness to be appreciated, and people must go beyond the constant changes in genre, beyond the continue scrambling of the cards and be ready to have a headache from too much confusion.

In the end, it is undeniable that Kontrust know how to confuse people. "Second Hand Wonderland" is a unique, enormous vortex that completely revolutionizes the rules of genre that we all know and we are quite used to have fulfilled. If a band plays hard rock it would rarely add heavy electronic inserts into its music, but it is definitely not the case for Kontrust. Indeed, their constant rehash of stereotypes and rules allowed them to write and play music with a very strong character, and will force the listener to experience mixed feelings. It's the classic album you can either love or hate, there is no middle ground.

01. Sock 'n' Doll
02. Falling
03. Monkey Boy
04. U Say What
05. The Butterfly Defect
06. Rasputin
07. Bad Betrayer
08. Adrenalin
09. Hocus Pocus
10. Raise Me Up
11. Hey DJ!
12. Police

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