Advanced Album Review :: A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen – A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

Ex pat Craig Ward brings his Belgian influences to the mainstream for the first time in an experimental debut album.


A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

Sighting experimental, progressive and rock as the three main genres of their music, A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen (ACKHK) are very much on the borderline between creative art and unadulterated noise. Catering very much to a niche market with their self titled and styled debut album, ACKHK could be the answer to the question you’ve been asking yourself.

Formed by Scotsman Craig Ward and Bootsie Butsenzeller, this trio made complete with Zahnoun Ben Younes on bass have been making some noise, no pun intended, on their respective circuits in Antwerp for a number of years. Finding kindred spirits in each other’s abilities and musical tastes, ACKHK was formed, the explosive and volatile experimental sound that is a signature of their work coming together nicely.

As debut albums go, A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen could be interpreted in one of two ways. Either it is seen as a rather stuttering start for a band seemingly trying to break into a mainstream audience beyond the borders of their native Belgium. Or conversely for those fans who are much more inclined to listen to improvised guitars, highly smashed synthesizers and just the faintest touch of a percussion section, it could be heralded as one of the greatest of all time.

With tracks such as “Farmers with Televisions”, “Priss” and “Safety Shot”, Ward and his band mates keep their cards close to their chest when inviting listeners into their world. Bemoaning lyrics poorly dubbed in behind the music and a permanently distorted sense of production are no doubt staples of the groups own sense of art and styling. However to the uneducated in the world of improvised and frankly ignorant members of the public and therefore those outside of the bands already established fan base, this comes across as arrogant at best.

Indeed the album and ACKHK are competent at what they do, it just seems confusing to the listeners as to what that is exactly. In regards to their attempt to spread to a wider audience, it is both a brave and perhaps misguided decision to have such an inwardly directed, self satisfying record as this in which to progress any further. To further confuse listeners, acts such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, KISS and Rush are cited as influences. Of course the adage that this music would not be made if punters did not listen to it can always be said and the best of luck in the future can be given to this currently unsigned act.

Jonathan Whitelaw

The band’s debut is released on the 21st of March 2011 via Jezus Factory Records:,

9 Responses to “Advanced Album Review :: A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen – A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen”

  1. Craig Ward says:

    So what you’re saying is something like “For a band trying to break into the mainstream they don’t sound much like they’re making much effort to be accessible”?

    Where did you get the idea we’re trying to break into the mainstream, I wonder? First I’ve heard of it.

    And if making relatively inaccesible rock music is an act of arrogance, well, whatever. Nice of you to think of “the listener”, by the way, poor hapless git that she is. I’ll try to keep her in mind next time.

    Now go suck your Snow Patrol lollipop, lightweight.

    • Paul says:

      Craig, Boots,

      Jonathan is an excellent and educated writer. His knowledge of all things rock music is exceptional – you should be pleased that you have had him review ACKHK’s debut. However, you have misread his review your comments are uncalled for.

      I hope you manage to see that the review is actually complimentary and respectful of your musical efforts – “it could be heralded as one of the greatest of all time.”. Personally I would be quite pleased with that. It is a sign of Jonathan’s acute awareness that he has been able to see that the record would be received one of two ways to potential listeners.

      Your thoughts are always welcome on our writers’ thoughts, but please be more respectful in future.

      Good luck with your musical direction – we all wish you the best of luck.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I have listened to this music and find it painful at best. You also cant go about mashing together two completely unrelated sentences and citing it as a quote. Mr Ward has obviously over reacted to any slight criticism of his precious band. Why would you not want to break into the mainstream? Unless your quite happy not selling any records.
    Crawl back underneath the rock you came from this charade of “sticking it to the man” isn’t doing you any favours.

  3. Boots says:

    Haha….nice to read there’s already animated discussions going on about a record that’s not even out yet. And yes it’s only us that knows what the actual intention of our music is. Selling records is surely not our major goal, otherwise we tried to sign with EMI or something. But we hope to touch listeners with something pure and intense they won’t hear on their favorite radiostation. If those 300 people out there get touched and buy an album, then we achieved our goal.

  4. Craig Ward says:

    In response to Paul’s request to be respectful, let me clarify.

    I have to point out that Jonathan’s review, while not negative, has misrepresented Boots and I, and it is this that I object to, not that I perceive it as hostile. It is inaccurate and, therefore, does us a disservice. Jonathan asserts that Boots and I are ‘trying to break into the mainstream,” which is perplexing, as it based on nothing. Jonathan seems to have plucked this non-fact out of the ether in order to give himself an angle with which to approach his subject. In doing so he’s suggesting that Boots and I are motivated by some ulterior desire, namely to become successful on commercial and, therefore, non-musical terms. Not only is this untrue, it is also contrary to everything we hold dear as working musicians. Our aim is simply to allow music to come about (music that cuts it on our own terms), to trust in our instincts and judgement. It really doesn’t go any further than that.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less who likes it. In fact, I thoroughly expect no-one bar a handful of mentally ill people to like A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen. I mean, presumably Jonathan has closely listened to it. So – does it sound like the work of two men desperately keen to break into the mainstream? No, it doesn’t. And I find it hard to imagine where such a conclusion might come from.

  5. Boots says:

    Hey Paul,

    Didn’t mean to be respectless at all. Just wanted to clarify our goal as musicians with this band. And further i agree with Craig’s words here: Breaking into the mainstream is the least of our concerns indeed.
    And yet thanx for listening and reviewing, we might just reach the audience that might be interested in our attempt to confuse the listener.

  6. Shaz says:

    Some people need to read the review again, it seems.

    The reviewer is not trying to “assert” that this band is trying to break through into mainstream. He just says it could be perceived as such.

    A band has got to have thicker skin than this – even if their ultimate aim is to live a life of anonymity in the service of their art.

    Best of luck!

  7. Ian The King says:

    I think Jon is fucking awesome.
    The rest of you a massive sweaty cunts. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.