Friday, 11 March 2011

Music: Kaki King

The temptation to write lots of blog entries about music might prove rather difficult to resist, and here on my third post is the start of a possibly slippery slope.

I love the way that one artist or piece of music can lead you into another, an evenings musical indulgence could well seem random to the observer, but often one piece of music will remind you of another - perhaps a riff will sound familiar, or the albums share a common musician or producer and before you know it LPs are sprawled across the floor and a musical journey has taken place.

This sums up my first experience of Kaki King, when I learnt that she performed with one of mine and my colleague Mark's all time favourites groups, the Mountain Goats (who I will no doubt eulogise about them here all too soon as the new album is imminent), she definitely warranted further investigation.

Whilst I'm sure that she is probably not that keen on the following videos existence, she wrote the music and played on Mosquito Repellent and despite, or perhaps because of the mishap this video is a firm favourite and to me captures that special energy a great gig can only achieve (if you expect only audiophile grade links from me you're going to be sorely disappointed!)
If you enjoyed that please check out 'Supergenesis' on youtube recorded at the same gig, which shows some very cool slide guitar work.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, these performance were in 2008 and she'd already released three recording by that time (now up to 5 full length albums).

Away from such performances Kaki King is a songwriter, singer and guitar player and whilst very good at all three it's the latter that really makes her stand out. Whilst drawing parallels to similar artists is a very lazy thing to do, I can't help but think of the late Michael Hedges, whose style was similarly unusual and spectacular.

For me it's the earlier Kaki King albums that really stand out, the style of 'Everbody loves you' and 'legs to make us longer ' are refreshingly uncommercial and. seemingly uncompromising. This performance on Lettterman is a good taster of what to expect.

The 2008 album Dreaming of Revenge shows a style maturing into more conventional tracks, the guitar is still prominent but not the only focus. The video for 'Pull me out alive' gives a taster of the albums most commercial track. The video in itself is also well worth watching, their description of it is as follows:
"The video was made without film cameras -- it consists of over 5,000 still photographs shot on Nikon D30s. There are no special effects; all of the light trails were created by hand, with up to eight individual "light animators" flashing LEDs and flashlights on and off over a long (8 second) shot exposure."
I have only recently purchased the latest album 'Junior' and at this early stage I am a little under whelmed, it's almost as if some outside influence or perhaps desire to make a bigger name for herself has made it a more commercial rock oriented album, with the guitar playing taking something of a back seat and the quirkiness and originality of the earlier albums being diluted. On top of it all is has the curse of a very compressed sounding recording. Perhaps it will grow on me in time, and ultimately I’d have to say that an album by Kaki that doesn’t quite hit the spot is still well worth listening to.

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