Malice K  


Released: August 23, 2024


  1. Halloween
  2. Hold Me Up
  3. Song For My Baby
  4. The Old House
  5. Weed
  6. Radio
  7. You're My Girl
  8. Concrete Angel
  9. FADE
  10. Raining
  11. Blue Monday

There are ghosts all across AVANTI, the debut album from Malice K – the record wades through a disarray of chaos and loss with a sharp-toothed fervor. At points it’s howling and unhinged, a grungy layer atop a lush foundation of melodic capital-s Songwriting akin to the golden-age pop of the ‘70s, but in other moments it dissolves into a gentle, wistful haunting. Malice K’s songs are blunt, uncomplicated and unflinching as he probes the interiority of memories, of mistakes – saturated with an innate intensity that sucks you into his gnarled and visceral world, so barbed it could draw blood.

Malice K is a New York-based project helmed by visual artist and songwriter Alex Konschuh, but he was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. Following a stint living in Los Angeles, where he delved further into his music making and became a member of the artist collective Death Proof Inc., a trip to New York funded by a prospective label resulted in him simply never leaving the city. A period of chaos ensued, Malice K exhausted and unmoored and ultimately, unwell: “I was just… I was trying to be like a full-time performer constantly in my day to day life,” he says. “I was at every party, and doing everything, and I just wasn’t me.”

That partying and instability caught up to him, and through necessity he found ways to let go of what wouldn’t allow him to continue making his art, or even to survive. He wades through that turmoil on AVANTI, which acts as a diary of the last two years of his life. The album title offers a double meaning, named for both the formative alternative performing arts high school Malice K attended and the Italian adverb, which, translated to English, means “to go forward.”

He started writing the songs here across the last several years, one song at a time. Perfection is never the point. As reflective as his songwriting is, Malice K isn’t interested in belaboring the work, or even his own story. Leaving room for catharsis, for connection, for a community, is what’s most important. He prefers to distill the feeling and sound of the room, of the immediate present, the way he feels when he performs it, to tape.

“A microphone just recording the room, what’s around you – there’s something that comes through there and I like to preserve that as much as possible,” he says. “Even though you can’t define exactly what someone was feeling when they made a song, you can tell when somebody felt something when you hear it. It’s like how a camera can save a photo – I want to do that, but with sound.”

And the resulting AVANTI undulates with a singular acuity, strangely romantic but tragic, tense and startling, even in its quieter, ballad-skewing moments.

The record is unpredictable across its 11 songs. The album opens with a jarring scream on “Halloween,” Malice K’s breathless vocals buried beneath a grungy, roving Nineties riff. The track emanates a manic energy, enveloping. It’s a fitting entrypoint for the record, and for the vividness of Malice K. The snarling and obsessive “You’re My Girl” has a swaggering paranoia: “I got so high I thought my hand touching my hand was your hand.” But AVANTI exists in a lot of quieter moments – “Radio,” with its fluttering morose cello (Malice K’s first time composing for the instrument), which moves at an almost glacial pace comparatively, or the aching wistfulness on both the “The Old House” and “Blue Monday.” “The Old House” is an album stand-out, anchored in an acoustic guitar, an uneasy lullaby that never quite settles into itself: “I think to myself I got the things that I wanted, but I can’t help think there’s something else that I forgot to do.”

There’s an underlying theatricality throughout – but it works because it’s built on what’s simple and true. Like on the penultimate track, “Raining,” with its propulsive, percussive heartbeat, where he wonders: “You set me on fire and put me out / for what is trust / but making up for how you fucked up to begin with?” It’s the closest the album comes to a thesis – a flawed, lovesick devotion – but the idea of a guiding story is something Malice K squarely rejects.

“I don’t like albums formed solely around themes, or where you have to be told what it is,” Malice K says. “I don’t like being told what to think or feel about something – I stray away from projects where it needs to be explained to be heard properly, or where there’s only one way to hear something.”

A recent press interview called Malice K a shapeshifter, but he’s not amorphous in that way. He’s decisive and intense, more concerned with carving his own path, and building his own world, rather than finding ways to fit into what already exists. Every part of Malice K is distinctly himself – felt even in the visual components, like the “Radio” single tape-and-scissors artwork, the illustrations for the inside of the album packaging, the AVANTI album cover featuring a sculpture he made in collaboration with Cheeky Ma. From his sweaty high-octane shows to the high-flash high-contrast photos; from his gnarled and unsettling illustrations to the studio recordings that vacillates between grief and tenderness at the drop of the hat, there’s an exceptional ferocity across everything Malice K touches. AVANTI feels lived in, like peering into an abandoned house through a window smeared with grimy fingerprints, relics of a life well-lived scattered inside – despite being a debut, there’s the sense that Malice K arrived fully-realized, imperfections and all.