Sunday, February 14, 2010

Music Library: KMD, Knife In The Water, Konono No. 1, Korean People's Army, Kraftwerk

KMD - Mr. Hood (1991) and Bl_ck B_st_rds (2001).  This was Daniel "MF Doom" Dumile's first group, with him recording under the name "Zev Love X" and his brother under the name "DJ Sub-Roc."  Mr. Hood is a pretty entertaining debut, although it doesn't have any of the dark geeky anger of Doom's later work.  The story behind the second, long unreleased KMD album (recorded in 1993, released in 2001), goes a long way towards explaining how the sorta sweet Black Nationalist Zev Love X became the supervillain MF Doom.  While finishing work on Bl_ck B_st_rds, DJ Sub-Roc was struck by a car and killed.  Almost immediately afterwards, KMD's label Elektra dropped the band, upset with the cover art (a Sambo image being lynched in a game of hangman) and the tougher (although still humorous) rhetoric in the lyrics.

Knife In The Water - Plays One Sound And Others (1998), Red River (2000), Crosspross Bells EP (2001),  Cut The Cord (2003), and Red Bird/Slavery EP (2006).  Fantastic Austin band that specialized in a dreamy form of alt-country somewhere between Lee Hazlewood and Low.  There's a miniscule progression on their albums from the extremely spare Plays One Sound to the only slightly spare Cut The Cord.  A great band, anyway, that deserved a bigger audience.

Konono No. 1 - Congotronics (2005).  Congolese band with afrobeat rhythms and electrified thumb piano.  Lots of long songs that sound like - and apparently are - electric, rock and funk-influenced versions of traditional tribal music.  The band has been kicking around Kinshasa since the 70s, and the leader of the band is in his 70s.  The music also has a clattering junkyard sound, which is also appropriate since some of the instruments and much of the amplification are homemade devices.  Amazing stuff.

Korean People's Army - "Song of General Kim Il Sung." Apparently this is a very popular song in North Korea.  I keep it as a cultural curiosity.

Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk (1970), K4: Bremen Radio 1971, Kraftwerk 2 (1972), Ralf und Florian (1973), Autobahn (1974), Radio-Aktivität (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), and Computer World (1981).  I'm a Can partisan, but even I will admit that Kraftwerk was the most revolutionary of krautrock bands.  On their first album as Kraftwerk in 1970, they were already using manipulated tape loops to create long and surprisingly funky jams.  The K4 album was recorded while founder Ralf Hutter was out of the band finishing his architecture degree.  Replacing him was guitarist Michael Rother, who would shortly leave Kraftwerk along with the drummer, Klaus Dinger, to create Neu!,  and this K4 bootleg is a pretty awesome oddity that is not quite either band.  Kraftwerk 2 and Ralf und Florian are both half-ambient and noodly.  But with Autobahn, Kraftwerk became a truly conceptual band.  Each following album was built around a concept with the members of Kraftwerk adopting the synth technology to realize it.  Autobahn is, of course, about driving.  Radio-Aktivität is split between songs about radioactivity and songs about active radios.  Trans-Europe Express appears to be about a train that crosses European history.  The Man-Machine jumps into a retro-futurist vision of dehumanization seemingly straight out of the early films of Fritz Lang.  And Computer World is about - get this - a world to come in which computers are an omnipresent part of everyone's lives.  What will they think of next?


Emanuel 5:31 AM, February 15, 2010  
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