The music of LA-based singer-songwriter Jens Kuross occupies a rare space in the world. Seemingly from a different time and place, his brilliantly unique sound is an intricately built kingdom to which listeners are invited in occasionally to immerse themselves and find a moment of peace and clarity, before returning to the hustle of their own lives.
Over the last 18 months, the multi-talented singer-songwriter has released a string of these hypnotic moments: most pressingly, his latest single ‘The Life Inside’, which arrived in October 2018. It was the first taste of his brand-new EP “Art! at the expense of mental health, Vol. 2”, which serves as the second instalment of his multi-faceted ‘Art! at the expense of mental health’ project and was released later that same month on Jens’ own Dirty Guns label.
‘The Life Inside’ is, according to Jens, a song that deals with “the desire for a creator to stay in the place where they’re most comfortable: within their creation”. But ‘Art! at the expense of mental health, Vol 2’ isn’t a body of work that is deliberately tackling the artist’s relationship with their own mind. While Jens’ music is inherently escapist and dream-evoking through the very nature of the sound, the questions the listener is being asked are less mystical than that; and, by his own self-admission, the title of the EP applies more to the actual “difficulties surrounding the artistic process” and the sacrifices that are demanded when you chose to become a working musician.
The difficult nature of balancing personal health with a career as a touring musician is. However, something Jens has a firm understanding on. He’s spent a lot of time touring, he’s an active member of The Acid, and plays as a session musician on the side too. He calls himself a “musical mercenary” due to necessity and talks openly about the coping mechanisms you develop on the road – and, crucially, the mental struggles involved with having to flip between touring as part of a band of others to touring as a solo musician and being existentially alone for months.
It’s no wonder, then, that this series of EPs is titled ‘‘Art! at the expense of mental health’; and, considering Jens’ formidable talents, it’s no wonder that the music contained within this latest release is a beautifully-measured reconstruction of the complex nature of life as both an artist and a human being in the modern age. It’s straightforward, yet complicated; it’s minimal, yet it’s meaningful; and it’s beautiful, and heart-wrenching, and simplicity at its most arresting. It’s… Well, it’s Art.
‘Art! at the expense of mental health, Vol. 2’ is out now on Dirty Guns. Get your copy here.