Chicago-based indie-rock/post-punk artist Killed by The Architects, aka Jamie Berkes, recently released a new album, Tabula Rasa, which probes personal and societal conflict as well as contemporary society’s inability to differentiate between experience and perception.
The album’s title – Tabula Rasa – refers to the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content, and therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception.
Born and raised in rural Iowa, Jamie Berkes moved to Chicago in 1998 to pursue a career in medicine which he still practices. In 2019, despite not playing any type of instrument, he decided to pursue his passion for music. Under the mentorship of Chicago artist and producer, Antony Ablan, he developed his own unique sound, a sound difficult to pigeonhole yet memorable.
Encompassing a dozen tracks, entry points on Tabula Rasa include “God Complex,” dripping with heavy, dark colors riding a rumbling, portentous rhythm. Jamie’s voice, raw and edgy, imbues the lyrics with ominous textures.
“North/South” opens on punk-like flavors merged with thick shoegaze. Syncopated percussion gives the rhythm angular, visceral moodiness. A personal favorite, the Smashing Pumpkins-like intro to “I’m in Love,” immediately beguiles, followed by flowing into delicious washes of post-punk aromas.
“If I Don’t Know What You Want” blends hints of doom, shoegaze, and progressive new wave into a thrumming, echoing tune topped by dreamy, haunting vocals. “My Friend” begins with a lusciously crunching drum shuffle, and then adds obese bass vibrations and eerie synths. The result is at once lysergic-lite and compact.
Another appealing track, “Disciples,” conjures up suggestions of The Killers gone dirty, pumping out uncooked harmonic layers of murky sounds. “Move Mountains” recalls the Deftones, rolling out on strident textures rippling with black, aching tones.
The last track, “Penny for Your Thoughts,” features dirge-like coloration, a thumping beat, darkly gleaming guitars, and wistful, ghostly vocals. Measured yet pulsing with spine-chilling dynamics, this might be the best track on the album.
Tabula Rasa is excellent! A sonic tour de force. Although brimming with gloomy shadows, there’s a bewitching, hypnotic quality to the music.