Night Gaunts - Conversations With Creation (Cover Artwork)

Night Gaunts

Conversations With Creation (2015)


Night Gaunts are a ska/punk/hip-hop party band from New Zealand.  Their first two releases, Full Body Tourettes Pt. 2 and Love Life & the Devil included some of the most unique and inspiring ska songs I had heard in a long time. Conversations With Creation plays with the sound they created on those albums, often slowing down their classic ska beat to a more vibey rocksteady beat, using more layered, refined production, and clearer, less frenetic vocal delivery from the singer/rapper, Paul Jonassen.

While Night Gaunts went in a progressive direction with this album, I do have some strong criticisms. I will preface them by saying that I believe in this band. I have loved their music since the release of Love Life & the Devil in 2012. They have an excellent work ethic, they deserve all the attention they have gotten recently, and I hope they only continue to grow in popularity.

Conversations With Creation was in the works for a long time, and it shows, often in not such a good way. Most of the tracks don't have the same feeling of spontaneity that their other releases have. The album sounds like it has been worked into the ground. While I do understand that perfection is important in ska music, it was a major downfall for me on CWC. The production is very filtered compared to their previous releases. The strong, punchy bass drum that was on LL&D has shrunk to a less satisfying thud. The almost robotic way that the instrumentals chug along causes the songs to lack the passion that was obviously there at one point in the writing process. I desperately hope that they use a real drum kit on their next record. Another issue I have is the strange structure of many of the songs. They often sound a bit like they came up with a great hook for the verse and then weren't sure where to go with the chorus/bridge/rest of the song, so they wrote a simple, non-meaningful chorus and forced in an overcomplicated bridge/breakdown. While it works on some ("Let it Flow," "Nights & Daze," "Sunday"), it feels very unnatural on others ("8 Dollars," "W.A.S.P.S.," "We Are Not Afraid").

The Last criticism is about the lyrics.  On their previous releases, the lyrics were abstract, artistic, and personal. On this album, they are still personal and easy to relate to, but they don't make me think like they did before. Not too big of a deal though.

All that being said, this album makes me want to dance. I love its positive feel, its excellent keyboard and guitar work, and all the crazy shit that defies everything that ska is/was. Night Gaunts are doing something new and exciting and I hope the music world recognizes it. I truly cannot wait for what they do next.