Monday, March 31, 2008

april 1st 2008

mark kozelek
two excellent records are being released tomorrow. both are follow ups to some special records in my life. first off, we have Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon fame releasing his third LP under the Sun Kil Moon moniker. the record, entitled 'April' might just be my favorite record of '08 so far. Gregor Samsa is a post rock mainly known for having Kayo Dot and City of Caterpillar members appear in their line up. their latest 'Rest' is released digitally today, although it has been streaming on their myspace for the past couple of weeks.

gregor samsa
'55:12' was a very conflicting record for me. Essentially, Gregor Samsa is a heavily post-rock leaning Low tribute band and '55:12' perfectly encapsulated that. Although that record is certainly a great listen, the movement and song structure is painfully obvious. The pick-ups in tempo, the crescendos, every moment of '55:12' has an overwhelming simplicity to it. I'm not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly does effect the replay value of that record. With 'Rest,' it seems as if the group is taking strides towards being an artistically legitimate entity. Early Gregor Samsa evoked a Sigur Ros sense of stagnancy that has almost been completely thrown away with the developments made on 'Rest'. Kayo Dot alumni and Ghastly City Sleep members make guest appearances, but little of this is obvious. 'Rest' is still the Gregor Samsa of '55:12', but they've grown up. 'Rendered Yards' pulls off a gorgeously effective inclusion of vocals in a seemingly operatic style. Even in the slow beginning of 'The Adolescent,' it is pretty obvious that this record isn't going to contain the same noise heavy moments of 'Makeshift Shelters,' and while that is a slight disappointment, Gregor Samsa's incorporation of a chamber music styled line-up is equally as exciting. 'Ain Leuh' demonstrates why that is about a minute in when it bursts into a dazzling mini-crescendo, which is really unexpected for a band that previously prided themselves on their unabashed slow dredges to glorious conclusions. Lead vocalist Champ Bennett evokes a Ben Gibbard with a soul (Although, Gibbard's inclusion on 'Lost Verses,' Mark Kozelek's opening track to 'April,' has me thinking maybe Ben can still accomplish something a little credible) and Mia Matsumiya proves once again that her flawless technique can easily make a good album great. In other words, the ambient soundscapes, the excellently contrasting vocals, and the pop sensibility from ’55:12’ is all here, the group has just really embellished on their old methods.

gregor samsa's 'rest'
'April' is a pretty easy record to sum up; eleven tracks of the most pure sincerity that deal with a variety of rekindled feelings. 'Tonight the Sky' perfectly encapsulates Neil Young in his Harvest era. 'Tonight in Bilbao' provides a touching update on the song structure of Sun Kil Moon's track 'Duk Koo Kim' but without all the extremities about South Korean boxers. The filler like 'The Light' and 'Heron Blue' which both seem like extremely safe Kozelek tracks are still excellently arranged and rival any of the highlights off of 'Tiny Cities'. Essentially, 'April' is an improvement and definition of what the Sun Kil Moon sound is really able to pull off. Lengthy, but for a reason. Intimate, but with enough courtesy to be vague enough to allow the listener to place themselves in the songs. Mark Kozelek defines the term “artist” and 'April' is yet another notch on his belt, an enveloping experience that calmly and quietly wins its way into your heart.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Great post man! I have been a Red House Painters/Kozelek fan for quite awhile now. Can't wait to hear this Sun Kill Moon record.

Peace, Kevin