Sunday, February 24, 2008

eh? more: Krakow and KBD

A fresh lot of material from Eh? has arrived : 4 disks which I'll review in a couple of batches.

First, Jesse Krakow World Without Nachos (eh? 33). Krakow had a release on Public Eyesore, and is, from my web search, something of a journeyman across a range of serious groups. I say this because this album, like the last, is a lo-fi outsider piece: there are 72 named tracks across its 38 minutes, which means that there are some very short tracks (4 seconds is the shortest) and no very long ones (1:38 is the winner there). The pieces are dominated by Krakow's voice - a sort of friendly drawl which occasionally does different accents - his seemingly untrained guitar (which at times reveals his skill) and percussion (a drum machine I would guess). Using 4 track recording he does some over dubs (most noticeably vocal) and there is some electronics (Me and my laser friends or extensive strings on I am dum). While the album appears as a collection of doodles, songs such as I am learning to like golfing or So urban belie the hidden writing component, where at times the mulitvocal harmonies recall the Beach Boys. Many of the songs are 'mere' stings - 51 to 53 are single sentences (I am the king of rock but I don't like crowns) with simple backing, but as they expand they demonstrate some complexity as in the title track which asks 'how can you live in a world without nachos' twice over strums, but stretches the final harmony of the dish into a magic tone or I will love you tomorrow which is a complete harmonised song, with building synth chords and the guitar, ending in a looping guitar strum and percussive beat and imploration to the 'girl' - but the songs are really too compressed for any real analysis. The topics canvas personal weaknesses, food, love, coolness and friendship (and its mirrors). At times disturbing, amusing, entertaining and usually musical this is a strange and frustrating release-you get the feeling that there are some great somgs which could emerge from here, but it is as if the Beatles had sung 'I want to hold your haaaann' or Amy Winehouse 'Rehab? no no no no Rehab, nooooo'. But just go with the flow as this sketchbook washes its changes over you, and enjoy it.

The second disk for this post is The KBD Sonic Cooperative - Kimaid, Beam and Dohm on percussion, strings, horns, trumpet, cello, signals, electronics, objects and a no-input mixer. Four plus one refers to studio improvisations and a live track. This is a group that seems primarily interested in creating atmospheric soundscapes using the instruments as sound generators rather than playing 'music' - hence there is a squeaky wooden rubbing noise which could be a toy or a cello tuneing knob. In the studio pieces they focus on different aspects of their music; the long first is abstract and doesn't have many focussed group-playing sections, but is gentle, building slowly, clicks purrs scrapes percussion with an echoey processing at the end with something of a climax. The second is more active, particularly percussion and the wind sections, with less space and more instrumental playing, and some particularly nice long processed trumpet notes.The third becomes more active again, with more electronica to the fore, looping sonarish beeps tones and shimmers which plays along well with the trumpet; and the short fourth one has soft buzzsawscrapes and builds to a big percussive climax. Each of these is interesting, but my favourite track is the live one - almost half the album. Here the group plays within the constraints and expectations of a live set - providing more variation, a greater ebb and flow and maybe less indulgent. All the aspects of the group are on display - electronica, scrapes and nosies, brass - and provides an interesting ambience. None of these pieces 'go anywhere' but rather weave through a space of their own creation that is diverting - and at 80 minutes it is probably best consumed in two doses: the studio tracks or the live excursion.

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