Thursday, February 04, 2010

Music Library: Kepler, Ketty Lester, Ayers-Cale-Eno-Nico, Kid Koala, King Crimson, King Geedorah

Kepler - various tracks (1999 - 2003).  My buddy Mike Sheridan was Kepler's drummer, and this is a comp he sent me in 2003 of various album tracks from their first two full-lengths as well as a few non-album tracks. Some excellent slowcore/alt-country stuff here, pitched somewhere between Low, the Red House Painters, and Mojave Three.

Ketty Lester - Love Letters (1962) and "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid."  You may know Ms. Lester's version of "Love Letters" from Blue Velvet.  It's a perfect soundtrack for that movie: lovely, creepy, stunning, majestic.  Just Ms. Lester and a piano/organ/bass/drums quartet.  But oh my, does this song rule.  Here:

Listen to how the key changes to a minor chord, starting in the first verse right when she goes to "I'm not alone/in the night."  Then it's back to the major key for the end of the verse.  The second verse introduces a different minor key change at the "And, darling, then/I read again/right from the start."  Third verse, same as the second, but more intense.  And that song is forever lodged in my brain.  The rest of the album is great, too, although not quite up to the standards of "Love Letters."  She's a first-rate talent.

Kevin Ayers-John Cale-Eno-Nico - June 1, 1974 (1974).  Attributed in my collection to Keven Ayers, which is more or less fitting since the whole second side is taken up with his godawful jamband contributions.  Eno and Cale are in fine form, but Nico's version of "The End" makes one long for the relative refrain and taste of The Doors.  Wikipedia helpfully explains that the bemused stare between Ayers and Cale in the cover photograph is due to Cale having caught Ayers in bed with his wife the night before the concert.  If this is so, I'm more than a little surprised that they could be as civil as this photo suggests, or that the publicity people would have waited until the day of the show to take a photo of the participants.  After all, Cale wrote "Guts," with the opening line "the bugger in the short sleeves fucked my wife," about the incident.  Anyway, Eno has only two songs and Cale one.  Nico's contribution makes me want to tear off my ears and Ayers's songs sound like the Grateful Dead on a particularly lazy kick.  Not recommended.

Kid Koala - "Fender Bender."  From a comp that a friend made.  Koala's a remarkable turntablist.

King Crimson - In The Court of the Crimson King (1969), Lizard (1970), Larks' Tongues In Aspic (1972), Starless and Bible Black (1974), Red (1974), and Discipline (1981). As the Venture Brothers graciously reminded us in the season just past, there is no band more nerdlinger than King Crimson. With their psychedelic wash of Mellotrons, the OCD style of guitar (dubbed, in super-nerdlinger style, "Frippertronics" for guitarist Robert Fripp), the frenetic avant-jazz horn attacks, the blasts of pure noise, the extreme LOUDquietLOUD dynamics of their song structure, the way that Fripp has of acting more like a Zen guru than a controlling bandleader, and the aggressively crappy pop songs that occasionally interrupt their albums, you may be forgiven for believing King Crimson to be more of a D&D support group than a band.  But what a band they are/were!  Although I have only six of their albums, they represent four different periods for the band.  The first, In The Court Of The Crimson King, posits the band as psychedelic warriors, with the blazing "21st Century Schizoid Man" devolving into the flute-driven (and most painful to these ears) "I Talk To The Wind" and finally working its way back to the majestic scifi-meets-medieval cathedral of sound "In The Court Of The Crimson King."  Lizard, featuring an almost completely different band than Crimson King, is practically free jazz throughout.  Larks' Tongues, Starless, and Red, all of which constantly rework the band lineup, share a complexity and aggressiveness that is weird and sometimes offputting, and yet so compelling and influential.  Discipline, with yet again another version of the band, pulls off the trick of subsuming the sound of some of the band's followers (specifically the downtown NY art-punk scene) into something that it utterly new and yet of a piece with the earlier albums.  The current permutations of the band, as described on the Wikipedia page (which Wikipedia deems so important that the page is almost as long as their article on WWII, another sign of sure-fire poindexterity), is more complex than any non-fictional entity has any right to be. I guess I'm trying to say that although the band is undeniably a prog-rock monster, the music is heads and tails above the sound of most other prog bands.

King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader (2003).  From back in the day when MF Doom was a prolific guy, this album features yet another Doom-related identity, King Geedorah, the three-headed monster from outer space.  Doom is the DJ with a number of guest rappers (including himself), and his production is a dense dose of headphone-filling goodness. 


オテモヤン 10:32 PM, February 07, 2010  
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Si 6:23 PM, February 11, 2010  

Fripp is still a massive influence on loads of people from Tool and Porcupine Tree to all the "live loopers" From Katy Tunstall to Andrew Bird to Matt Stevens( - very Fripp goes flamenco)

Phil Freeman 10:25 PM, February 11, 2010  

You need some live King Crimson. I recommend "USA" or "The Great Deceiver" (formerly an expensive box, now two cheaper double-disc sets).

Hayden Childs 11:18 AM, February 12, 2010  

Man, Si, I agree completely. Fripp's use of technology was nothing short of revolutionary.

And thanks for the recommendations, Phil! I'll check 'em both out. Listening to the King Crimson I have made me long for more.

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