Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

First Watch: Krill, 'Torturer'

The music of Krill is all about tension just waiting to be released. Seething anxiety runs through the lyrics of bassist and singer Jonah Furman, who deploys drawn-out, sentence-like phrases that tease out pent-up emotions, self-doubt and neurosis. It makes Krill's songs feel jittery and claustrophobic one moment and satsifyingly cathartic the next, as the trio erupts into distortion. It's a formula that's firmly placed Krill alongside its Boston peers Speedy Ortiz and Pile as one of the city's best live bands, and it's on full display throughout the band's 2015 album A Distant Fist Unclenching — and especially in its highlight, "Torturer."

Recorded with Justin Pizzoferrato (who's worked with Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Speedy Ortiz), "Torturer" is a brooding song punctuated by Aaron Ratoff's wiry and snarling guitar lines, Ian Becker's sudden barrages of drums, and feedback that flares up when you'd least expect it. That loud-then-quiet-then loud dynamic also plays a role in the band's new video for the song.

Directed by Kathleen Hancock and Doug Ross, the video depicts a young caretaker at one of those old New England mansions — complete with ornate oil paintings and intricate wallpaper that appears both lovely and perhaps a little unsettling. The day starts like every other: He wakes up, washes his face, meticulously prepares breakfast and works through various chores. But as isolation and monotony allow the mind to wander, paranoia kicks in — and odd, childlike people (or figments of his imagination?) in animal masks appear eerily around every turn. Soon, they begin to wreak havoc.

As the song builds through the band's waves of noisy outbursts, the caretaker gives in to his more primitive impulses — just as Furman's conversational chorus becomes a sort of dialogue between him and those tormenting creatures (or perhaps with himself): "I asked, 'What did you come here for?'" he sings. "And you said, 'Whatever you need me for' / I said, 'I don't know what you're for.'" It's all a little surreal, sure. But the story and its imagery matches the low, rumbling turmoil lurking in Krill's complex, chaotic music.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit