LA-based producer and songwriter Jens Kuross has been quietly stirring emotions and excitement in recent years with a string of understated but affecting releases. Today he finally announced his debut album, The Man Nobody Can Touch, for release on September 25 via Dirty Guns.
Kuross has had an interesting journey to this point, graduating from Berklee College of Music, moving to Los Angeles, working his way into the music scene as a jazz percussionist and then ending up on the road as part of the acts RY X, Howling and The Acid. It’s no wonder it’s taken a while to reach the point of releasing his debut album.
Today’s new song “Painkiller” was originally written as a song for The Acid, Kuross explains:
“This song was one of a handful of demos that me and Steve Nalepa had started working on for the new “Acid” album. So confident in its potential awesomeness, we figured it was a shoo-in for the record. But were then equal parts surprised and disappointed when it was deemed “too jazzy” by the other band members. I think it wallowed away in obscurity on Steve’s hard drive for something like two years before he and I got the bright idea of turning it into one of my own songs. At its heart is a 20 or so minute jam with me on drums and Steve messing around with a Wurli and a sampler. That man is a wizard with his sound toys. We cut it down to the best three or four minutes and I added the melody and lyrics. Presto chango. Now it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.”
The jazz can certainly be heard in the bustling and deft percussion on “Painkiller”, but what really sweeps you away is the narcotizing effect of the synth textures, engulfing you like a warm blanket that you just want to collapse into. This couples nicely with Kuross’ lyrics and vocals, which are understated but impassioned, and speak to his humanity. It sounds like his inner monologue is doing battle with itself, as he flips from the self-caring mantra “don’t try so hard,” while another part of his mind is chastising him for all the ways he’s trying to escape himself: “pain killers, cold dinners, cheap thrillers, numb it with the rest of the winners.”
In “Painkiller” Kuross gives us a direct look into the human condition, that doesn’t try to offer any deep solutions, but just validates the feelings that we all experience at times in this complicated world.