Exhumed, Reviewed, Renewed: quannnic’s kenopsia

Written by Rae-Aila

quannnic kenopsia
> Alt metal/shoegaze/indietronica
> Released February 28, 2022
> deadAir Records

The internet music landscape moves quickly, often in no exact direction. With the rise of algorithm-heavy apps like TikTok that drop user-specific content at the forefront of your device, music has begun to travel in ways that seem unbelievable – it’s why you can attend a Deftones show in 2023 and see a crowd made up of 50% middle-aged men in khaki shorts and 50% teenage girls with dyed bangs. In this new era of social media, the process of reimagining older music trends is treated like a melting pot; a popular idea that was capitalized on years ago can be reinvigorated with life by a musician’s niche interests as well as pretty much anything else served to them via data. After all the quarantine time spent indoors scrolling and swiping, it is only expected that every possible subculture you can think of will get a fun and unique twist from somebody.

quannnic, a mysterious 18-year-old figure whose first upload on Soundcloud is traced to 2021, is a product of the aforementioned technology. kenopsia is the first full-length project packaged by quannnic, first self-released on February 28th, 2022, and then later rereleased under the independent deadAir label. Seamlessly combining the hard-hitting grooves and aggression of nu-metal with the bitcrushed mixing techniques associated with the 2020’s digicore scene, kenopsia feels like a bonding experience between generations.

Image sourced from Soundcloud

The album opens with my personal favorite “think with your lungs”, a three-minute journey that encapsulates all of the stylistic choices of the project in a single track. The song starts with a reserved quannnic mumbling lines like “I’m a guard / Don’t ask what I’m guarding” and “Think for yourself ‘til it all falls apart”. It plays out like a tease – first introducing an atmospheric shoegaze guitar riff, then a heavier rhythm guitar, and then finally pulsing kicks and a synthesized lead. The contrast between the natural and digital instruments allows quannnic to intentionally place themself outside of a linear musical timeline. Listening to this track unfold feels like watching them collect an amalgamation of tactics from their favorite genres growing up. If “think with your lungs” is a slow and warm introduction, the next track, “sorry days”, feels like a foot on the neck. Swinging kicks clash against the distortion of quannnic’s vocals while the guitar tone melts over all the other instruments. The heaviness of everything clips so aggressively by the second hook that it becomes difficult to differentiate quannnic’s voice from a drum or a lead. Following “sorry days”, “nail” puts the shoegaze and metal qualities in the backseat to highlight quannnic’s talent for electronic sound design (the lead sounds like it was taken directly from 2000’s VGM culture). Though they never let you get too comfortable with one sound for too long – “life imitates life”, the track immediately following, has arguably the catchiest heavy guitar sequence on the album, comfortably making it a fan-favorite (watch them perform it twice at their first and only live show here).

The whiplash of quite literally everything happening at once makes it easy to get lost in the world of kenopsia, but maybe that’s saying something. In an age where the commodification of artistry works against creativity, where music can be AI-generated for a pretty penny, kenopsia shines like a diamond in the rough. quannnic’s earlier uploads on Soundcloud, like “one second of sympathy,” are clear signs of the times in the way that they manipulate abrasive synths and kicks familiar in quarantine-era digicore hits. Even through this, the shadows of kenopsia’s grittiness lurk in the background, from the Guitar Hero cover art to the acoustic drum intro. I challenge you to go through quannnic’s discography pre-kenopsia to see how their work builds up to this – the beauty of their world lies in the fact that this is literally just some kid who happened to develop love and interest for different things around them, and it just happened to graduate into the amazing body of work that is kenopsia. quannnic’s use of all of these different subgenres isn’t based on trend or fad, but a genuine connection that took years to form.

Throw around the terms all you want…post-Jane Remover, hyperpunk, nu-nu-metal (I’m sure none of these words are in the bible, and trying to explain any of this to anybody over the age of 80 might cause a brain hemorrhage). kenopsia makes it clear that quannnic doesn’t care what you call them. They are undoubtedly themself, making music that moves through both digital and tangible worlds. While genre veterans might be quick to brush this one off, it acts as a clear indicator that nu-metal isn’t dead and that the kids are still refurbishing and refreshing the classics.